Councils could face bill of millions for mental health aftercare

Social services authorities could be faced with bills for
millions of pounds reimbursing mental health sufferers who have
been incorrectly charged for their aftercare, if new guidance from
the local government ombudsmen is followed, writes Amy

The report states that a significant number of social services
authorities have broken the law by incorrectly charging mental
health sufferers whom have been discharged from compulsory
detention in hospital for aftercare services – in particular
residential accommodation.

The guidance comes after a clarification of the law in 1999
resulted in a number of complaints. Evidence given in that case
suggested that around half of social services authorities
incorrectly charged for accommodation, and councils argued that not
charging would cost them more than £50 million.

The ombudsmen call for all social services authorities to
identify those who have been improperly charged or improperly
deprived of financial assistance and reimburse them. They add that
no cut off date should be used when calculating repayments and that
interest should be added.

Other parts of the guidance state that “in general” councils
should not carry out retrospective assessments “purporting” to
remove people from being entitled to free services, and calls for
any such decisions to be reviewed.

The report concludes that social services authorities should not
reject complaints made about previous assessments that ended
people’s entitlement to free aftercare after 12 months, on the
grounds that they are out of time.

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