Birmingham’s care homes lose legal battle

Owners of Birmingham’s private care homes have lost a legal battle to force a judicial review of the city’s council payment freeze to look after elderly patients.

A judge sitting at the city’s Administrative Court ruled against Birmingham Care Consortium’s bid to take Birmingham City Council to a judicial review, on Thursday 14th July.

Owners of more than 80 homes across the city claim they are in danger of going out of business, following a three-year payment freeze by the council.

Social Services bosses have not increased care rates since 2008, and pay as little as £54 a day to homes looking after dementia patients.

However, following the ruling, council plans to save £15 million by cutting home care fees by an average of seven percent are now under consideration.

At court, Birmingham City Council agreed to employ an industry expert to carry out a cost survey, and have agreed to backdate any fees they agree for 2011/12.

The council have also agreed to sit down at the table with members of the Birmingham Care Consortium, to discuss a way forward.

Birmingham Care Consortium was established in 1998 and has approximately 80 members from private residential and nursing care homes.

The organisation’s aims and objectives are to support care providers on their day to day operations of running their services, and to give them a voice at local and central government levels, to ensure their views and opinions are heard.

Les Latchman, the Honorary Secretary of the Birmingham Care Consortium, said, “We were initially disappointed not to have been given permission to proceed to judicial review at this stage.

“However, having considered carefully what the judge said, we now feel very positive about going forward and sitting down at the table with the council.

“We are pleased that the council has, even if only at the last minute, shifted its position on having a £15.68 million saving as the starting point for any discussion about care home fees. This means we can start afresh,” added Mr Latchman.

Mr Latchman said that he hoped discussions with the council could now be more meaningful.

Clear guidance by the judge has now been made to the Adults and Communities Directorate that they must make a decision about care home fees for 2011/12, by December this year.

Mr Latchman continued: “The judge also recognised that our case involved matters of public interest. The most important thing for residents and their families is that the judge confirmed that vulnerable people who have been assessed as needing care home services, must be provided with that care now. It cannot wait until the council’s review of its eligibility criteria has finished.”

“The council has been given a ‘hurry up’ by the court, to get a move on with this process, so that the continuing needs of the most vulnerable people are not held in the balance. The judge recognised that we as care home businesses need to plan for the future, and that without knowing the rate it is hard to do this. We also welcome the opportunity to look at the council’s financial records. Obviously the Council run care homes themselves and are fully aware of the costs involved. But if there is any way they could help us to reduce our costs, we would always welcome this,” conclude Mr Latchman.