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Elderly who sold homes to pay for care could claim back cash

A government blunder saw thousands of elderly people sell their homes to fund nursing home care which they should have received for free.


by Michelle McGagh on Aug 03, 2012 at 12:00

Elderly who sold homes to pay for care could claim back cash

Thousands of elderly people forced to sell their homes to pay for care that they should have received for free could be eligible for compensation from the government.

Solicitor Farley Dwek, based in Manchester, estimates that as many as 100,000 pensioners who had to sell their homes to fund their nursing home fees should have had the costs covered by the NHS.

Mistakes made by the NHS meant thousands had to sell their properties over seven years between 2004 and 2011. Those affected were supposed to have their care and funding monitored by the NHS continuing healthcare scheme, which offers care over a long period for those suffering after an accident, illness or disability.

If a person has to go into a nursing home following a period in hospital then they meet the continuing healthcare criteria for funding, and the NHS will pay the fees, even if care is needed over a number of years. Owing to mistakes made by the health service, those who were supposed to be monitored under continuing health were not and were subsequently denied free care.

Deadline for claims

Although claims have been ongoing since 2004, the government has only just set a deadline for claims of 30 September 2012.

The Department of Health said only in ‘exceptional circumstances’ would claims be accepted after the deadline, and that it was necessary to set a time limit of 2004 on claims as it ‘becomes more difficult with the passage of time to properly evaluate people’s historical needs’.

Families of people who had to sell their homes between 1 April 2004 and 31 March 2011 can claim for compensation, even if the elderly homeowner has died.

Don't be left out of pocket

Despite the large number of people who have grounds to make a claim for compensation, just 5,750 have done so.

Andrew Farley, partner at solicitors Farley Dwek, which is working on behalf of the families, said the average claim is £20,000, although they do not always receive the full amount claimed for.

‘With average weekly care home fees standing at between £500 and £700 and about half having to pay their own fees, even if the person is in care for just a few months the fees run into thousands.

‘We’ve seen some claims for hundreds of thousands, but the average claim period we’re dealing with is 31 months, so the average claim stands at about £20,000.’

Families forced into debt

Farley added that 90% of the cases are for people who have died, and 60% of the claims are being made by children on behalf of parents who have been in care. He said the cost of care had pushed some of the families into debt.

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15 comments so far. Why not have your say?

steven fieldfare

Aug 03, 2012 at 17:54

I don't understand how some families"have been pushed into debt", as the self funding liability surely rests with the patient? When the patient's assets fall below £23.5K is not the tab progressively picked up by Social Services or by the NHS, as for social care?

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Aug 03, 2012 at 18:06

Steven what they probably mean is that "some families were expecting to inherit larger sums of money and feel hard done to".

When do we expect the phone calls from the "ambulance chasers" telling us that we might have a "right to claim"? This time I hope that the government puts up something to stop fraudulent claims.

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colin grant

Aug 03, 2012 at 19:26

This is a total disgrace.The government should not have the right to limit their own liability in this manner if they are not widely publicising their own error. Its not just the money. The upset to an elderly person being forced to sell their house is immeasurable. I dont share Mark22s cynical asserions. He has obviously got an axe to grind. Jealousy of people who have saved and been sensible all their lives in not a nice reaction.

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Aug 03, 2012 at 22:15

I am not jealous of people who save and are sensible.

My parents saved all their lives to fund their old age and sold their house as part of that activity. They had supported me through my youth by giving me the best education they could afford. I did not expect to inherit the money that they had saved during their life. I expected them to make the best use of it for themselves. I have done the same for my children and do not think it is my right to leave them an inheritance.

My axe grinding is twofold:

1. How can children be claiming on behalf of parents when, as Steven says, social services pick up the tab when the patient's assets are below £23.5K. My cynical view is that they are claiming for themselves; and

2. The ambulance chasing lawyers will not be seeking to claim refunds so that elderly people can live in greater comfort but suing the government to line their own pockets at the taxpayers expense.

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Aug 03, 2012 at 22:55

Steven, When my father in law went into a care home , the Local Authority took a charge on his home and made it clear to my wife that in the event he survived long enough to exhaust funds they would expect her to fund his care costs. Even though both my wife and I are pensioners.

I suspect they took this approach to cover themselves should my wife have sold the property and used some of the proceeds for purposes other than payment towards his care.

It worried both of us and we finally sold his home to fund an annuity which along with savings and pension income covered his two years in care without the need for us to make a contribution.

Having been on the sharp end I can confirm that between the NHS , Local Authority and Care Home Provider it's a dog eat dog situation.

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colin grant

Aug 04, 2012 at 00:14

I think you have a perfect right to expect to be able to leave an inheritance for your own children. The children that you say are claiming on behalf of their parents, but really for themselves have more right to that money than people who have spent everything on themselves and therefore have everything paid for them by the taxpayer when they get old. I agree with you about companies who claim to want to help you but are only interested in lining their own pockets.

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Aug 04, 2012 at 10:47

This wasn't '...mistakes made by NHS....' It was most probably a policy decision by the Labour Govenment to keep the NHS budget down.

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Aug 04, 2012 at 12:01

Surely the principle of "Cradle to grave" care by the NHS should apply to everyone. without the need for selling off assets to fund the care, then the IHT system will kick in when the inevitable happens.

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Aug 04, 2012 at 17:28


I suppose my intention is to make sure that my children are as self sufficient as possible as early as possible rather than leaving them an inheritance late on in their lives.

My "cynicism" about this article is caused by the large number of fraudulent claims for PPI that are going about and the fact that Farley Dwek are looking for some 95,000 people to come forward and claim an average of £20k per time.

How much money are Farley Dwek expecting to make out of it and who is going to pay for their time (the taxpayer of course, I could almost guarantee that Farley Dwek won't do it pro-bono).

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colin grant

Aug 04, 2012 at 20:10

Fraudulent claims from people who were never sold PPIs in the first place are obviously just criminals, the same as all the people who claim whiplash if they either have a genuine or fake crash. Hopefully if they get punishments that fit the crime,ie sequestration of their own assets, it will possible deter others. The trouble is they never get a proportionate punishment from the courts. Insurance companies dont have the spine to fight whiplash claims. They just wind everybody elses premiums up. The answer: dob in your mate who's been bragging how much money he got!

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steven fieldfare

Aug 04, 2012 at 23:56

I share Mk 22's cynicism over the legal professions' role in inducing claims on taxpayer's money. I have had 2 cold calls this week to persuade that I may have a PPI claim if I search deep.

But I also incline to Colin Grant's view that inheritance should not be a dirty word - not so much for children's benefit but for that of grandchildren.

Debate over education standards and property ownership has been well rehearsed; less so the implications. Free higher education and a way to it through the Grammar schools has been lost; remaining ways are private education (for those who can afford it - say £30K per year) or premium property ownership in the catchment areas of high quality state schools, requiring £30K only for the higher education bit.

Home ownership required a modest (and saveable) deposit achieved through a decent follow on job. But now home deposits add at least another £30K to university debt and the decent job is not so sure.

Inheritance from grandparents has now a premium. A £1M estate or gift income from £1M investments safely provides £30K per year, wisely used sufficient to see one grand child at a time through a private education and/or several through University. Later, income is available to provide one house deposit per year. Recipients are, therefore, up and running by their mid twenties; those who do not inherit probably need until their late 30s to become established.

While I do not suggest access to a £1M inheritance is the norm, the drift is clear - without an inheritance boost, a good education and lifestyle, once readily achievable with due diligence, is a huge mountain to climb.

I make no judgement over the right or wrong of inheritance but simply make the point that equality and self suficiency for all should not mean that ever inceasing numbers are unable to climb out of the pit.

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Aug 05, 2012 at 10:23

I am with Mark22 100%, who has put the case against in words which I can I identify with.

Maybe I have an axe to grind too, because I have no children to inherit. I do have relatives who have children and grandchildren who will eventually inherit what is left when I snuff it, but I have made it perfectly clear to them that I do not intend to deliberately arrange my affairs so that they can take advantage of legal inconsistences to gain maximum benefit.

I do not see the point of retaining my house if my mental and physical state dictates that I will have to live in a care home.

In that case all my requirements would be taken care of and accounted for in one consolidated bill.

Why would I wish to retain a house with its multitude of expenses and responsibilities, which I would have to delegate to someone else and in practical terms have no control over?

The solicitors quote an average claim of £20,000 over a period of 31 months which works out at £645 per month. How does this square with the quoted fees of £600 per week? Does this mean that approximately £1800 per month is being funded from pensions, interest from investments, and capital drawdown.

If that is the case, then the sum of £20,000 deducted from the proceeds of the sale of the house does not seem unreasonable, and would still leave a deceased persons estate with a substantial residue.

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Lets Face It

Aug 05, 2012 at 11:06

Is this article saying that the elderly affected are those who were already ill/disabled before they had to go into a nusing home, regardless of their wealth?

Surely not many old people walk into a nursing home and sell their homes unless they already have such problems?

I understand that todays government is posturing to do something about financing social care in old age but lets be realistic here.....are they likely to find any money under the mattress to fund another unaffordable state service?

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White Stick follower

Aug 05, 2012 at 11:22

Well Mark 22, another firm of solicitors other than Farley Dwek have got the 'ad' in today's papers. Isn't it amazing how fast lawyers can move when they scent some easy money? Its a pity they slow down once you have signed up with them.

As to the right for state payment for care, as above, the ethos of the NHS when introduced was exactly as Taff says, 'cradle to grave'- and if there were not so many taking out when they have never put in, as now, then the pot would be adequate. They key word in National Insurance is Insurance, but the Treasury behave just like most insurance companies, 'Pay us your premiums, but don't ever claim, because we won't pay unless forced'. As in so many articles in recent times what is exposed time and again is if you are prudent and live within your means, whilst making provisions for later years, you will pay the Treasury one way or another. Live off of the State and/or spend everything that comes along and follow the mantra of 'I'm all right Jack'- and you will be, because someone else pays your bills.

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steven fieldfare

Aug 05, 2012 at 12:06

Hotrod and Lets Face It make points that seem not to distinguish between nursing and social care in making conclusions over costs.

As I understand matters, lawyers are after NHS money to recompense patients or their estates for nursing costs in care over a number of years when the NHS has denied some patients' needs for "continuing care". NHS Trusts invariably adjudicated that a stabilised medical condition, no longer requiring treatment as an inpatient, was ineligible for financial support. Acute issues such as terminal cancer and mental health problems like dementia did not qualify, but now do so.

Lawyers' estimate of back claims is presumably based on average stay times in Care and Nursing homes which I understand is 2 years and presumably less for acute medical cases.

The nursing care element may be a small or large part of the overall cost, depending on how much of the underlying social care cost it picks up. Social care costs are said to average £600 a week nationwide, but I doubt this is a true reflection for self funders after discounted and capped Council contracts, recent inflation and extras are taken into account. Geography matters, too, and Care Home charges in the South of England frequently approach £50K per annum.

A modest home will fund Care Home costs for around 4 years, less if additional Nursing Home costs have to be met. Whether anything is left for inheritance depends on longevity. While the average stay may be 2 years, that means many live in care much longer.

Unless the Dilnot Report or similar is adopted, Government and Councils do not need to worry further over cost increases for care of the 50-60% that they do not presently fund; providing, of course, that longer living in general does not ramp up numbers in Care Homes surviving beyond the 4 year nominal point. There is, however, emerging evidence that increased longevity may become an issue, as a previous Citywire article pointed out: while average life spans may be increasing, healthy living seems to be making little progress, with problems resulting from poor lifestyles taking their toll.

As for Lets Face It's point about where the funding for the nursing element of care is to come from, that is a matter of NHS priorities - and therefore politics. Where does elderly nursing care sit over generous Doctors pay and pension settlements, cosmetic surgery, IVF treatment, obesity treatments and A&E facilities for Saturday Night drunks and druggies?

What is certain is that if average families (taxpayers') wealth diminishes, and self reliance with it, Social and Health funding overall will decay. But that is Big Stuff of left and right view argument!!!

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