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Woman wins care home charge victory
A theatre director has won a victory in her legal fight to have her "home" disregarded in calculating her mother's ability to pay care home charges.
Glen Walford challenged Worcestershire County Council's decision to reverse its original position over Sunnydene, the house owned by her mother Mary in Stourport-on-Severn.
Miss Walford, who is in her 70s, was "stunned and extremely upset" when she heard the news in March 2012, four months after it was confirmed that the property was to be disregarded in her mother's financial assessment.
The National Assistance (Assessment of Resources) Regulations 1992 provide that property owned by residents in care homes should be disregarded where it is occupied in whole or in part as their home by a relative aged 60 or over.
Miss Walford's case was the first time these legislative provisions had been considered by the courts.
Her solicitors told the council: "Sunnydene is our client's home. She is a single lady with no partner or children. She uses all parts of the house and the vast majority of her personal belongings and chattels are situated there, including the bulk of her clothing, ornaments, furniture, books, videos, files, scripts, theatre work, two computers, her archives and posters."
From 1983, when her father died, Miss Walford, who founded The London Bubble Theatre Company, had taken over maintenance of the house and, after her mother was admitted to a nursing home in November 2006 when she broke her hip, had spent £42,500 on its complete refurbishment.
She lived in the house with her parents until she went to university and, although she had made many temporary homes in the UK and abroad because of her work, always regarded Sunnydene, which she was due to inherit, as her home.
She rented a small studio flat in London, where she was registered for council tax, and stayed with friends when she visited her mother because of the renovations but had always intended to retire to Sunnydene.
In papers before London's High Court, she said: "I dearly wish to be able to keep a much-loved house in the family for my own continued use."
Today, Mr Justice Supperstone quashed the council's January 2013 decision upholding its reversal of its previous position and sent the matter back for re-determination.
He said that "home" in the Regulations was to be read as "only or main home", a place to which a person had a degree of attachment both physical and emotional.
The council's decision was based on an incorrect interpretation and application of the legal test as it appeared to have applied a test of actual occupation or permanent residence.
It was wrong to review the position only as it was when Mrs Walford went into long-term care and it had failed to consider whether Miss Walford had occupied the house as her home since then.