St Helens Council wins UK’s most expensive care row

Council chiefs in St Helens have won a landmark ruling over who should foot what is billed as the most expensive care package in the UK.

Manchester Council sued St Helens Council in a row about the £650,000 annual bill to fund a mentally ill woman’s care.

The woman, known as P, grew up in St Helens but moved to Manchester in 2000.

Her condition – which cannot be revealed for legal reasons – is so complex she requires round-the-clock care.

Manchester insisted St Helens should pay – sparking a long-running legal battle between the two councils.

But the latest in a series of court battles culminated in victory for St Helens Council at the Court of Appeal last week.

In a unique Appeal Court hearing at London’s Civil Appeal Court, Sir Anthony May ruled Manchester is under a statutory duty to provide for P’s care and ordered the council to pay the legal costs of the case.

He said he “disapproved” of the legal action and added: “The money for this woman’s care and the money for the litigation both come out of the same purse.”

He also dismissed Manchester’s claim that St Helens had promised it would continue to pay for the woman’s care.

They had earlier argued forcing Manchester to pay would give councils a licence to ‘dump difficult care cases’.

Sitting with Lord Justice Scott Baker and Lord Justice Lloyd, Sir Anthony ruled portions of Manchester’s case were “absurd”.

And he said there was “an entirely rational basis” for the stance taken by St Helens – which cancelled P’s care package last year after an earlier court victory.

Following the hearing, Manchester City Council’s assistant director of Adults Social Care, Paul Cassidy, pledged to abide by the ruling.

“We are disappointed with the ruling of the Court of Appeal,” he said.

“We took this legal action because we feel that St Helens Council acted unfairly by attempting to transfer responsibility for her care to us without any discussion beforehand.

“We will now seek to implement the court’s ruling and ensure that P gets the care that she needs.”

A spokeswoman for St Helens Council said: “The council welcomes the Court of Appeal’s decision.”