Suffolk County Council has been branded ‘ugly’ for the support and advice it offers to families paying top up fees towards care for their relatives.
The authority is one of 29 flagged up in a report by the charity Independent Age for having ‘incomplete information’ on the issue or ‘appeared to have a blanket policy of leaving contracts to be negotiated directly between the relative and care home’.
Councils have a responsibility to monitor the extra amounts paid by relatives to improve the quality of council-funded care.
It follows a Freedom of Information request to 152 local authorities by the charity, which then ranked them as good, bad or ugly.
Janet Morrison, chief executive of Independent Age, said the report demonstrated a ‘real concern that top-up fees are becoming a secret subsidy by which some underfunded councils limit the amount they spend on care’.
Cllr Alan Murray, the county council’s cabinet member for health and adult care, said they understand that often families make decisions over care homes ‘during particularly difficult times’.
He said: “We do our utmost to ensure they have all the information, advice and guidance available to them so they can make an informed decision.”