In a recent case care home providers asked the Court to consider whether Newcastle City Council had acted fairly when setting the rates that it is prepared to pay for care home placement. The case was heard in September and the judgement was publlished on 26th October of this year.
In an important judgement for all care providers the Court found in their favour,stating that the Council had not followed a fair process. A key point at issue in this case was the requirement for Local Authorities to undertake a genuine and robust consultation process before changes to payment arrangements are made. This impacts on all providers of services to Local Authorities, and should act as a reminder to purhasers of thier obligations when setting fees to be paid for services. Paying lip service to the requirement and/or failing to follow an objective process when setting fees leaves the Authority open, as in this case, to legal challenge.
As with all judicial review claims, the Court retains an absolute discretion to award such remedy as it sees fit. In this case, the Judge said that it would “offend justice” if there was no remedy. He therefore ordered:
- A declaration that the Council's decision of 26th March 2012 to set the rates was ulawful and should be quashed; and
- A declaration that the Council should not refuse to make placements with providers who decline to accept placements at discounted rates.
Full details of the case are available to TfC Members in the 110212 issue of Staying Ahead.