Council apologises for asking grieving son for £3,100 after mum’s death
- Credit: Archant
Council bosses have apologised after asking a grieving son to pay more than £3,100 towards his late mother's care - when they had failed to previously inform him it would cost anything.
Norfolk County Council was at fault, said a watchdog, because it took so long to reassess the finances of the woman, after she was admitted to a care home.
It was only after she had died that her son was told money was owed.
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman said the woman, known as Mrs C in its report, had previously paid nothing towards her social care while still living at home.
And, in the absence of contact from the council for more than six months after she went into a home in October 2017, her son, referred to as Mr B, had believed she had continued to get free care.
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So he was upset when, a month after her death in April 2018, that the county council wrote to him saying he needed to help the council complete a financial assessment for her.
He wrote to the council saying he was shocked to get the letter.
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He said his mother's income had not changed since the previous financial assessment, so he was not expecting to have to pay a contribution.
But the council said it was owed £3,188.38 for her care.
Her son, who had power of attorney for his mother, had already distributed her estate, according to her wishes, and complained to the council and the ombudsman.
The council has accepted its processes were not carried out quickly enough and the ombudsman agreed the authority was at fault because of its delay in sorting the financial assessment.
The council had, prior to the ombudsman's report, already agreed to apologise and to write off the thousands it had asked the man for. The ombudsman was satisfied with that approach.
A county council spokesman said: "We are sorry for any distress caused to the family when we issued the care bill after Mrs C had died. This occurred during our transition from one system to another.
"We identified the delay, apologised to Mr B and wrote off the entire outstanding sum, before the ombudsman recommended that we did so.
"We have also trained our finance team, to ensure that this kind of delay shouldn't arise again."