In an important determination of wide ranging application, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has upheld a complaint against Wiltshire County Council who had argued that a family were receiving care "at the top level" with reference to its banding system.
The Ombudsman found that:
1. A banding system to determine funding could be used as a guide but was unlikely to work in complex cases.
2. The decision to reduce funding was part of a general cost cutting exercise and not based on assessment of need, and so was in breach of the requirements of the Care Act.
3. The Council could not force an unwilling carer to provide care she reasonably said she could not give.
4. The Care Act required the Council to assess eligible needs and then meet them regardless of cost. It could not ration care. The Council's Matrix Assessment Tool whose stated purpose was to "ensure limited resources could be fairly allocated to families based on need" was incompatible with the Care Act because the Act did not allow rationing for any reason.
Councils cannot put a cap on people’s budgets: the Care Act says eligible needs must be met, regardless of the cost.