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Devon County Council to appeal against fees ruling

By Herald Express  |  Posted: December 06, 2012

wrong decision: Stuart Barker

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DEVON County council has lodged an appeal against a High Court ruling that it could have done better in setting care home fees.

The authority was ordered to look again at how it came to set the fees for 2012/13 after the High Court ruled it did not give sufficient regard to equalities.

It was also told it did not give due consideration to the cost of caring for dementia patients.

But after completing an extended impact assessment into its decision on care home fees for 2012/13, the authority has made no change to its current fee structure.

It says its fee levels give an average 8.6 per cent increase to home owners.

Now the authority has launched an appeal.

It wants to 'draw a line in the sand' over future legal challenges.

Cllr Stuart Barker, Devon County Council's cabinet member responsible for adult social care, said: "We believe the court's decision was wrong and will result in an excessive, costly and unreasonable layer of bureaucracy on all local authorities which will divert millions of pounds away from the care of vulnerable people."

The council concludes that current fee levels for 2012/13 are fair and sufficient to keep well-run and efficient homes in business. The assessment also says robust plans are in place to ensure the care needs of residents will continue to be fully met should a home choose to close for any reason.

The council argues its average 8.6 per cent rise in fees is significantly above the Consumer Prices Index and far higher than those of many local authorities.

But the decision has been criticised by Alan Beale, one of the claimants in the Judicial Review and member of the Devon Quality Care Forum.

He said: "We regret to say the decision by the county council leaves us no alternative but to continue to resort to legal action to try to protect our residents."

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