South West Wales

High Court backs Pembrokeshire care homes over fees

Pembrokeshire council has been ordered by the High Court to reconsider how much it pays private care homes for each resident for a second time.

Seven care home companies took further legal action against the local authority.

After a court hearing last year the council offered to increase payments for each resident from £390 to £464 per week.

The council said its position would ring alarm bells at other authorities.

Care homes disputed the method used by the council to arrive at the figure.

Owners complained they were not receiving enough from the council for each resident they looked after and some faced going out of business.

Sitting at the High Court in Cardiff, Mr Justice Beatson has ruled that Pembrokeshire council did not follow the agreed funding model and that it did not give appropriate consideration to a number of factors while calculating the final figure.

There are around 30 private care homes used by the council in the county.

Following last year's ruling the council warned the decision would cost it around £1.5m extra this year.

Speaking after the judgement, one of the care home owners involved in the case, Mike Davies, said: "Our over-riding concern from the outset has been the need to provide high quality, sustainable services for the people for whom we provide care.

"This latest judgment has therefore come as a huge relief, most importantly for the residents of the homes involved and the dedicated staff who look after them."

Pembrokeshire council said: "Obviously the council is disappointed with the judgment and we need to reflect upon the detail in it. The matter will be considered by members in the new year.

"The position in which Pembrokeshire County Council finds itself will set alarm bells ringing throughout local government. Across the whole of the UK, adult care is already a service in financial crisis.

Care workers

"It must be borne in mind that among the 22 local authorities in Wales, Pembrokeshire County Council already pays one of the highest rates to care homes (£464 per resident, per week in 2010-2011, £469 in 2011-2012).

"However we welcome the fact that the judgment has ruled out retrospective payments which would have meant a cost to the council of around £6m."

Care Forum Wales, an association of independent care providers, welcomed the ruling.

Its chairman Mario Kreft said: "These are very important decisions by the judge which we very much welcome on behalf of residents and their families, care workers and care home owners because they put people and communities first.

"This isn't just about a care home getting more money to do what the law requires it to do, it's about the future of care services for the people of Wales and 90% of those services are provided by the private sector."

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