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SOCIAL SERVICES CHIEF WARNS OF SERIOUS IMPLICATIONS OF 'CARE CHARGES' RULING

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The director of social services for Redcar and Cleveland BC ...
The director of social services for Redcar and Cleveland BC

has today warned that a high court ruling on the provision of

residential care for people covered by the Mental Health Act (see LGCnet) could have serious implications for authorities across the country.

John Farries was speaking following the outcome of a high court hearing at which a Redcar and Cleveland resident, originally detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act but now living in a residential care home, had argued that he should not be charged for his accommodation in the home.

The high court found in his favour - a judgement which Mr Farries warns could create major difficulties and anomalies. The authority is now considering the judgement and is taking legal advice on whether it should consider an appeal.

Explained Mr Farries today: 'There are really two major issues at stake in this case. Firstly, if the principle that individuals in this kind of situation are entitled to residential care accommodation free of charge was to apply, the cost to this authority alone would be in the region of£150,000 a year - and, of course, the implications for many other authorities across the country would run into many millions.

'Secondly, we are concerned that if the position upheld by this judgement stands, it will create the quite unreasonable situation where someone who has originally been compulsory admitted to hospital under the Mental Health Act is subsequently entitled to free residential care, whilst someone who has voluntarily gone into hospital for treatment has to pay for their residential care.

'Naturally, together with the other authorities involved, we are

disappointed at the outcome of the hearing in the high court. In view of the serious implications both for ourselves and other authorities we obviously have to study the judgement in detail and then consider whether there are grounds to take the matter to the appeal.'

Redcar and Cleveland was involved with three other authorities in the high court hearing at which leave to appeal was given. It is expected that the judgement will affect a number of authorities in the North East, including others in the Tees Valley area.

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