Kingston Council rejected the proposal to offer 40 per cent of beds at a new care home to low-income residents.
The Lib Dem-controlled council focused on the economic impact and acted against the Conservatives who wanted to improve accessibility to Surbiton dementia home.
Lib Dem councillor Caroline Kerr said: “The Tories urged us to block book 40 per cent of beds at the dementia care home for local authority funded residents even though it’s illegal under the Choice Directive of the Care Act 2014 to force people who can’t afford to fund their own care into a home of the council’s choosing.”
Under proposals from the Conservatives, nearly half of the beds would be allocated to residents who have their care funded by the local council.
But those plans were described as incompatible with current care legislation by the Lib Dems.
Needs to benefit local residents
In a recent blog post, Conservative councillor Kevin Davis said: “Kingston Council should not be building a care home for the private sector unless they can get a benefit for Kingston residents.
“Our poorer elderly cannot afford to go into private care homes and pay full fees.”
The plans were dismissed, as they would impose restrictions on people’s choice of care home.
If residents wanted to go somewhere else, the council would have to pay for their care twice, as their bed in the Surbiton home would already be played for.
Kerr added: “57p out of every pound our residents pay in council tax goes to fund social care and we have no intention of wasting that money in this cavalier way.
“It’s no wonder this council was on the verge of bankruptcy when the Liberal Democrats took over.”
Rising construction costs
The project has faced growing criticism from members of the council as its cost rose from £15.5m in May to £17.3m as of the latest Recovery and Response meeting in October 2020.
Kingston Council has not yet allocated a tender for running the home despite starting construction earlier this year.
Davis said: “Kingston Council should have identified a private-sector provider before the home was built, in line with the decision of councillors in December 2017.
“Instead, the Lib Dems ploughed on building a home without a care provider or knowing what they were going to do with it when it was built.”