Postcode lottery of residential care charges highlighted

New research reveals a postcode lottery of whether a spouse is
billed for the residential care of a husband or wife,
writes Alex Dobson.

New research shows that one in three councils in the UK have a
policy of pursuing spouses for payments and contributions, and the
remainder do not.

Researchers from King’s College, London trace the roots of
the anomaly to two sections of the National Assistance Act 1948,
which say that spouses who are unable to sustain their husband or
wife at home can be held financially liable for part or all of the
care costs.

When the researchers quizzed councils, they found that 35 per
cent of authorities did have a policy of pursuing spouses for

“A few authorities in each region were prepared to pursue
spouses. London boroughs, counties, metropolitan and unitary
authorities were all involved,’’ according to a
report from the research.

The report say there were wide variations in the charges levied.
Capital limits where charges become payable, for example, ranged
from £3,000 to £50,000.

“Some authorities asked liable spouses for a modest
contribution, others however expected savings to be substantially
diminished,’’ says the report.

‘Spouse Liability for a Partner’s Long-term Care Costs:
Local variations in policy and practice in the UK’ (Journal of
Social Policy and Administration December 2002)

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