Care costs ruling upheld

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A council's right to sell a person's home in order to claw back nursing home fees was upheld in the High Court yesterday.

Despite the fact that David Harcombe had returned from Australia to care for his 84-year-old mother, the judge ruled that councils had a wide discretion to impose such charges "to ensure residents with assets are not maintained at public expense".Mrs Harcombe had wanted to leave her house to her children, including Mr Harcombe who lives there, but now much of the money from its sale will have to pay off the residential home fees. Local authorities must disregard the value of a property where a spouse or a relative who is either under 16, over 60 or disabled lives. But they are allowed to use their discretion in other cases.