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19th December 2011

Judge finds in favour of Pembrokeshire care homes in second fees ruling

A landmark judgment in Cardiff’s High Court has been welcomed by owners of care homes and care providers across Wales.

Mr Justice Beatson came down in favour of seven care home owners and against Pembrokeshire County Council in a High Court judgment affecting how much local authorities pay for care.

He ruled that the Council had failed to give due consideration to the need for a return on capital invested by owners, and should have considered paying less to providers who had not invested money to improve their homes as much as other providers had done.

The judgment follows a similar decision against the Council 12 months ago.

The decisions have been welcomed by Mario Kreft, chairman of Care Forum Wales, an association of independent care providers which has called on local authorities across Wales to work more closely with the private care sector to ensure the highest possible standards of care.

He 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 per cent of those services are provided by the private sector.

“We’re committed to the highest standards of care and this has obvious resource implications and the fact that there are so many care homes in financial difficulty shows there are issues.”

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.

“It is also a huge relief for the families of those residents and they too have been very supportive of our efforts to resolve this issue.”

Last year a similar decision resulted in Pembrokeshire offering to increase its weekly payment for each care home resident from £390 to £464 but the seven homes involved in the action disputed the method used by the council to arrive at the figure.

That led to the latest judgment and Mario Kreft added: “Pembrokeshire has chosen to play hard ball and this is the result.

“The judgment is a victory for equality and for the principle that if a care provider invests in providing services then he or she should not be out of pocket.”

“The judgment took account of the current financial climate. What we want now is to work together with the Welsh Government and local government to ensure a proper, sustainable service for the people of Wales.

“More than 70 per cent of the people in care homes in Wales are receiving their care from public funds so the criteria for that funding should be equal across the country and be sustainable.

“We have been campaigning for 20 years for the local and national governments to sit down with us and work out a proper approach.

“It’s not just about more money, it’s about sustainable services and how they link with the rest of social care and the NHS.

“There are more than 23,000 beds in care homes in Wales. It’s a hugely important part of the tapestry of social care in the country.

“At Care Forum Wales we want to work within the context of a public services ethos so that we plan for what communities need in terms of social care, both residential and domiciliary.

“The judgment is a very positive step towards resolving this long-running difficulty of getting local authorities and health boards to recognise the true costs of running care homes, but the next step is to work together to provide sustainable services.

“This isn’t about business operators, it’s about people and the service provided can only be sustainable if we work together under the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed up to by all those involved in social care.

“We need to move forward in the spirit of partnership and Care Forum Wales is writing to the Welsh Government and the WLGA to reconvene the Memorandum of Understanding as a matter of urgency early in the New Year.


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