If council loses funding fight old people will move

PUBLISHED: 10:00 21 January 2011

View of Weston Town Hall Building.; 18-8-09

View of Weston Town Hall Building.; 18-8-09

Copyright Archant Ltd

ELDERLY residents living in more than a dozen care homes will be moved by North Somerset Council if it loses a fight to keep funding down, home owners claim.

Extract from letter sent from North Somerset Council’s barrister to the appointed abitrator on August 24

“To read it in the manner now contended for by the claimants not only would give rise to a result that was absurd and potentially disruptive for residents supported in the claimants’ care homes, many (if not all) of whom would have to be moved...”

A group of 13 care home owners involved in legal proceedings with the council to decide future fees has shown a document to the Mercury raising fears over residents’ places.

The letter from the council’s barrister to an arbitrator indicates that the authority would move residents it funds to stay in the homes because of a rise in fees, if it lost an upcoming arbitration process.

But this week the council said: “North Somerset Council would like to reassure residents in nursing homes paid for by the council that it is not preparing to move residents.

“We are currently involved in legal proceedings with a group of 13 care homes to decide the future rate of fees.

“We already pay some of the highest fee rates in the South West.”

The response, however, has not convinced care home owners who say they fear for their residents, and businesses.

The alliance of homes are calling for an increase on the £80 per resident they receive per day for 24-hour nursing care, accommodation and food.

They want a 12 per cent rise in funding, but North Somerset Council has refused the increase, saying they already offer some of the highest fees in the region.

Lyndhurst Park Nursing Home owner Gordon Butcher said: “Should the arbitrator find in our favour, the council could be liable to an immediate payout of £6.5million, the only way they could avoid this is to cancel our contracts, and by legislation remove our clients.

“This is obviously a big concern to us and residents at our homes.

“We never wanted to go this far, we just want a price per resident which is fair and enough to sustain the viability of our businesses.”

Final preparations for the arbitration hearing by both parties are well underway and formal cases have been submitted.

The hearing, headed by an independent mediator panel, settles disputes between parties and is likely to take place in April.

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