A retired company director is being sued by Birmingham City Council in an £18,000 wrangle over his disabled mother’s care home costs.
Tony Lawson said he had been threatened with legal action after refusing to allow his 93-year-old mother Edna’s £100 weekly pension to go towards meeting her care bill at the St Bernard’s Home in Olton, Solihull.
The great-grandmother has lived at the home since 2007, after she fractured her arms in a fall, and used to work as a chef despite being born with no hands.
She also suffers from partial deafness and mid-range Alzheimer’s disease.
Mr Lawson, from Claverdon, has power of attorney over his mother’s pension and has been locked in a row over how much his family should pay towards her care costs since she moved in.
He claimed the council failed to offer a reasonable alternative home and four other premises – two council-run and two private – were not up to scratch.
“They have sent debt collectors after me and threatened me with bailiffs to get hold of the pension money,” he said.
“They tell me they have a legal right to the money but I do not think it is right.
“My mother was scrubbing floors at Marston Green Hospital when I was at school and worked as a chef throughout her life to support her children, despite her disability.”
Mr Lawson, who used to work in the construction trade, said his mother’s weekly care bill was £525 when she moved in, with the council paying £353 and him contributing the rest.
But the 69-year-old said the bill was now due to increase to £625-a-week, leaving the authority to effectively supply just £253-a-week if he paid the extra £100 and his mother’s pension was thrown in too.
“The dispute is about £18,000 of my mother’s pension money,” he said.
“I had a meeting with the home last month and they are increasing their weekly fees to £625. It means I will now have to pay more than £1,000 per month or she will be moved. I am fortunate enough to be in a position to carry on paying at the moment, but I may not be if it carries on.”
Now Mr Lawson has issued a counter-complaint against the council through the Local Government Ombudsman.
He claimed the authority had twice promised to reassess the fee levels at St Bernard’s but had failed to do so.
And he claimed to have evidence showing council-run homes cost the city £661 per person, per week and said he had actually saved the taxpayer money by choosing St Bernard’s.
Mr Lawson also claimed the council initially said his mother owned a house.
“I had to hire a solicitor to prove them wrong, and eventually they backed down,” he said. “My mothers assets are worth about £15,000, well below the £23,000 threshold.”
The Government is currently consulting on the future of care services for the elderly and how to pay for them.
The council said it would not comment on the case while legal proceedings were under way.
The authority has previously stated its aim to pursue those who refuse to pay their bills through the courts.