Councils in England must repay thousands of pounds in illegal reablement charges.
It follows an investigation by Community Care in September that found 22% of councils were illegally charging for reablement services.
Many of the descriptions of reablement services provided to Community Care met the legal definition of intermediate care, which must be provided free for the first six weeks under the Community Care (Delayed Discharges etc) Act (Qualifying Services) (England) Regulations 2003.
As a result of our investigation, care services minister Paul Burstow promised to issue guidance telling councils not to charge.
A letter last week from the Department of Health to council chiefs instructed them to stop charging for reablement services that met the definition of intermediate care, and to pay back any erroneous charges.
Repayment bills could run to thousands of pounds at each council. Southend-on-Sea confirmed charging for reablement services had raised £10,106 in 2009-10 alone.
The circular also announced how £70m in reablement funding for the NHS for the rest of 2010-11 would be divided between primary care trusts. PCTs are expected to use the money to fund council or independent sector reablement services to help patients on discharge from hospital and prevent admissions.
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