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Court rejects challenge to LGO finding on personal injury awards and care needs

The High Court has rejected as “totally without merit” a challenge brought by a council to a finding by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGO) that the authority could not take into account a woman’s personal injury award when carrying out an assessment of her finances.

The LGO said the decision meant councils could now be clear about the way it would investigate complaints about financial assessments involving personal injury awards.

Wokingham Borough Council had sought to challenge the Ombudsman’s decision, originally made in February last year.

The woman’s representative had approached the council for help in June 2015. In July 2015 the council assessed the woman as needing a care package totalling £3,910 per month.

The council did not start paying this money till October 2015, after spending months asking questions about the woman’s financial affairs, the LGO said.

The local authority had sought to argue that the settlement the woman received in 1998 for medical negligence should have been sufficient to support her care needs. The award was administered by a Deputy appointed by the Court of Protection.

Following the High Court’s ruling, the Ombudsman said it was asking Wokingham to revisit the report and provide the remedy recommended nearly 12 months ago.

It has asked the council to pay any money she should have received between July 2015 when the council accepted she had eligible needs, and October 2015 when it started making payments.

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, Michael King, said: “The judge has ruled and confirmed our interpretation of the law was within the range of reasonable responses. Councils can be clear about the way we will look at any similar cases that come to my office in future.

“I now urge Wokingham council to consider the report as a matter of urgency and pay the woman the money she is entitled to, and which she has been waiting for since last year while the court case was being settled.”

Cllr Richard Dolinski , executive member for adults' services, health, wellbeing and housing at Wokingham, said:  “This is a very difficult and upsetting situation because we have nothing but sympathy for this lady who was left in need of lifelong care due to medical negligence.

“We would never leave a person in this position without care but, the principle we have tried to take a stand on is that the taxpayer should not pay twice for the same person’s care. In this case, the lady concerned was awarded more than a million pounds in 1998, of which £729,675 was specifically to pay for her care needs.

“We will however be following the Ombudsman’s recommendation in this case.”

See also: Personal injury awards and care costs - Virginia Cooper explains why the High Court backed the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s decision on the ‘double recovery’ of care costs.

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