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'Figures don't match up'.

CARE bosses have insisted the figures released by the Conservatives do not match up to the situation on the ground.

The Tory figures do not reveal how many people in care had a house to sell, but in all North East cases the number of pensioners offered the help was only a small number of the overall total.

Northumberland Council said it does sometimes offer to disregard a patient's home value when carrying out means testing but official figures show only one person was offered the chance to defer payments over the 12-month period looked at.

Newcastle Council said that where asked they have always offered to defer payments, but could not say how many homes had the value disregarded. A spokesperson for Newcastle City Council, said: "The reason why only 24 payments were deferred out of 420 admissions to care homes in the last financial year is very simply because relatively few of the people admitted to care homes in Newcastle had homes to sell. We have never refused a request for a deferred payment."

The council did not say if every homeowner had the option put to them to defer payment.

North Tyneside were among the worst on the Conservatives' report, but this has been disputed by the authority.

A spokesperson for North Tyneside Council said: "National guidelines are applied when looking at long-term residential accommodation care."

Other councils in the region did not get back for comment.

COMMITMENT

CARE services minister Phil Hope last night said the Government remained committed to reforming the care and support system in England.

Mr Hope said: "The Government introduced a scheme in 2001 to encourage councils to ensure that no one in England would be forced to sell their home to pay for their residential care. This was backed up with an pounds 85m grant to councils.

"In addition, since 2001, the value of a person's home is disregarded for the first 12 weeks of council-supported residential care.

However, it is a matter for each local council to decide whether to introduce the deferred payment scheme in their local area."
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 30, 2009
Words:349
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