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Families paying too much for care.


Families are "all too often" paying too much for care in England because of confusing, or incorrect, information from local authorities, a new report says.

Some people are not offered an affordable care option in their area, the report by The Local Government Ombudsman says.

The report adds that "top-up fees", payable for items such as a bigger room, are often being incorrectly charged.

There was a 19% increase in complaints about social care from August 2014 to July 2015 compared with a year earlier. The ombudsman received 2,848 complaints during this period, of which 57.5% were upheld.

There were 2,397 complaints between August 2013 and July 2014 - 52.5% were upheld - and 2,324 between August 2012 and July 2013, of which 52.6% were upheld.

The report says local authorities should provide information in writing "at the earliest opportunity" which explains the financial implications of social care and top-up fees, so people can make an "informed decision.”

It adds: "The decision to place a loved one in a care home can be one of the hardest any family has to make but, all too often, families are paying too much for their care because they are not getting the correct, timely information."

People who have assets valued below £14,250 are entitled to have a care home place paid for by their local authority.

Care England, which represents care homes, said top-up fees were masking a funding crisis in social care, with some of the poorest people and their families being asked to fill holes in the budgets of local authorities.

President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, Ray James, said there were: "probably colleagues in local authorities feeling between a rock and a hard place" as more people were needing care in the face of funding cuts.

He added: "Even where that is the case, we should always make sure that individuals and their families are clear about the information that they need."