High court says council was wrong to demand house sale to fund care

A man will not be forced to sell his house to
pay for his father’s nursing care as a result of a high court
ruling this week.

Mike Beeson’s father Christopher launched a
high court test case earlier this year to ensure his son would not
have to sell his home to pay Dorset Council for his nursing home
fees. He died shortly after the court hearing in September.

Beeson gave the house in Weymouth, Dorset, to
Mike when his son’s marriage ended in 1997 leaving him potentially

The father continued living at the property
for a further two years but then suffered a fall in August 1999 and
realised he could no longer live independently. A month later he
applied to Dorset Council for funding to move to a home, but was
rejected on the grounds that by giving his son the house, he had
“deprived himself of an asset with which he could have funded his
residential care placement”.

He twice mounted unsuccessful challenges to
the decision under the council’s internal complaints procedure, and
his appeal was finally turned down by the director of social
services and an independent panel. Christopher Beeson was
subsequently told he would have to pay for his own care, including
arrears of £6,000.

The case went to court and in September this
year, Richard Drabble QC said that when Beeson gave his house to
his son, it had never occurred to him that he may need council
funding for residential care.

This week, Mr Justice Richards upheld Beeson’s
challenge to the council’s ruling.

Richards said the council’s decision to charge
Beeson was based on a “total misunderstanding” of the subjective
legal test the council should have applied.

He ruled that the council’s complaints
procedures fell foul of the European Convention on Human Rights as
Beeson had not been given a hearing by an “independent and
impartial tribunal”.

Dorset Council has been ordered to pay legal

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