CHESHIRE East has said it has the right to claw back money from anyone who has transferred their assets to avoid paying care costs.

The matter was being discussed at today’s (Monday) meeting of the adults and health committee, where a new social care charging policy was voted through following a public consultation last year.

Cllr Andrew Kolker (Dane Valley, Con) said it was common for people to transfer assets to avoid inheritance tax but what was the case if this happened in relation to care costs.

He also asked about personal possessions, saying the report to the committee listed a number of capital assets which must be disregarded when it comes to assessments for care costs, such as paintings or antiques.

Northwich Guardian: Cllr Andrew KolkerCllr Andrew Kolker (Image: Cheshire East Council)

“If I were to go to Amsterdam and by myself a 10 carat diamond… the council presumably won’t take it into account because it’s a personal possession,” said Cllr Kolker.

But Jill Broomhall, director of adults and social care, said: “If people transfer ownership of a property or move their money we can come back on those for that money.

“We will go back if we can prove that it was done solely to deprive them of their assets and to avoid paying charges.”

She added: “If someone has a diagnosis of dementia, early stages, and they suddenly transfer the ownership of their property into someone else’s name and then go into a care home we can take that into account and we will take that into account.”

She said the same applied for possessions – so if someone had bought a diamond ring, for example, or art or antiques to deprive their assets to avoid care charges that would be looked at.

But she said if items had been in the family for a long time that was different.

Northwich Guardian: Cllr Dawn ClarkCllr Dawn Clark (Image: Cheshire East Council)

Cllr Dawn Clarke (Crewe, Lab) raised concerns about a statement in the report saying that ‘in determining how to meet needs, the local authority may also take into reasonable consideration its own finances and budgetary position’.

Mrs Broomhall assured her this would not impact on people in need.

“At point of assessment from adult social care, we can take into account the finances of the local authority,” she said.

“However, once eligible needs have been assessed, we have a duty to meet those needs.

“We will not be saying to anyone, for example, we can’t provide care for anything more than £500.

"There’s no upper limit on the care, it has to be that it meets the eligible needs of the individual.”

The committee voted to approve the implementation of the revised adult social care charging policies.

The new policy comes into effect in April and anyone affected will have a new financial assessment.