Friday 28 June 2013

Care funding – the proposed reforms and how they will affect you

Care fees, care funding, residential care, government reforms
Article by
Chris Lucas
Care funding might seem like a confusing topic, but it is an issue which is likely to affect many of us at some point in our lives. If you or a loved one is going into residential care, it is advised that you seek advice early on. Lack of planning can result in the depletion of assets which can have a big impact on the inheritance for those loved ones left behind.

The present position
If you are in need of residential care, the current position is that you will be required to pay the full cost of your care for as long as you need it if you have assets worth over £23,250. This is known as the means test threshold. If your assets are worth less than £23,250 but more than £14,250, you will be required to pay a contribution.

What are the proposed reforms?
Earlier this year, the government set out reforms to adult social care funding which are due to be implemented in April 2016. These reforms can be broadly summarised as follows:
  • A cap of £72,000 on the total amount any individual will have to pay for their care, meaning that after this amount has been paid the local authority will step in and meet the costs;
  • Deferred payment arrangements to ensure that no one will have to sell their home in their lifetime to pay for their care;
  • Increasing the means test threshold from £23,250 to £118,500, meaning that those with assets worth less than £118,500 (as opposed to £23,250) will be entitled to some financial assistance from the local authority.
These plans appear to be a considerable step forward and the idea of capping care costs is likely to be welcomed by many. However, the reality is not so simple…

Accidents at Work

Article by
Dave Koon Koon
In yet another blow to the genuinely injured individual the laws which cover many of the aspects of an employer’s liability to their employee, should an accident happen at work, are changing from October 2013.

There will be many changes that will affect the prospects of success of claims being made by those injured at work and one of these changes is the removal of the requirement that the employer must prove that they have taken steps that are ‘reasonably practicable’ to ensure that their employee is not injured at work.

At present it is for the employer to prove that they have taken all reasonably practicable steps to reduce the risk of injury to its lowest level in compliance with whichever regulation or statute is relevant to the circumstances. It is not for the injured employee to do this.

Following the changes in October 2013 it will be more than likely up to the injured employee to prove that the employer failed to take all reasonably practicable steps to reduce that risk to its lowest level in order to comply with the relevant regulation or statute. This will in turn lead to increased expense for the injured party as additional expert evidence will be required to prove their case.

Another particularly significant change is the removal of ‘strict liability’ from the various Health & Safety regulations. An example of how this works is that at present, if an employee is injured at work, through no fault of their own, whilst using machinery or tools, which are defective or faulty and that work equipment has been provided by their employer then their employer will be liable to compensate the injured employee for their injury, regardless of whether the employer had knowledge of any problem with the equipment.

Following the changes to the Health & Safety regulations in October 2013 ‘strict liability’ will have been removed which means that should an employee be injured at work by defective or faulty equipment, provided by their employer, then the employee will have to prove that their employer was negligent in providing that equipment. This change will therefore shift the burden of proving the case to the injured employee who has done nothing wrong.   

If you have been involved in an accident at work please contact me on 01992 422 128 or at for further advice and assistance.

Tel: 01992 422 128

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

Monday 24 June 2013

Manual Handling at Work

One of the most common causes of injury at work is incorrect manual handling. It can cause Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) which account for more than a third of all workplace injuries. Common questions regarding manual lifting at work include:

Are there any weight limits on manual lifting?
The law does not specify a safe maximum weight limit. Instead it places a duty on employers to manage or control risk. The measures an employer must take to meet this duty will vary depending on the circumstances. For instance, the employer should consider the strength and fitness of the employee and the weight of the load and distance to be carried.

Should I take a manual handling training course and what will it involve?  
Manual handling training courses should involve learning about manual handling risk factors and how to avoid injuries along with how to safely manually handle goods and the use of mechanical aids. Although training can be important in reducing the risk of injury at work, employers should supplement this with monitoring and reviews of procedures to guarantee that practice is safe. 

Does a 'no lifting' policy exist?
The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (as amended) do not exclude individual types of manual handling or endorse 'no lifting' policies. Manual handling should be limited to circumstances where it cannot be avoided and only where the risk has been assessed and minimised.

Thursday 20 June 2013

Personal injury trusts – what’s the story?

Chris Lucas of Garden House Solicitors - Personal Injury Trusts Specialist
Article by
Chris Lucas
I have just settled a personal injury case for one of my clients who had an unfortunate accident whereby a barrel was thrown onto his leg causing a significant trauma injury with various other complications. The case settled for a five figure sum and was actually the highest award I have ever achieved for one of my own clients in my career as a trainee. Given the amount of compensation my client is due to receive, I have advised him to give careful consideration to setting up a personal injury trust.

What is a personal injury trust?
A personal injury trust is a legal arrangement whereby the compensation awarded from a personal injury claim is held and controlled by people chosen by the injured client, the ‘trustees’. The trustees’ responsibility is to look after the money and use it for the benefit of the injured client, the ‘beneficiary’.

Can’t I just pay my compensation into my bank account?
There are a number of reasons why we would advise any client receiving a large amount of compensation to set up a personal injury trust. The most common reason is that if you are in receipt of means tested benefits, the money you have will be taken into account. The threshold is that if you have over £6,000, your entitlement to benefits will be affected. In addition, if you currently receive or will need Community Care Support at some point in the future, having a large sum of money can lead to your support costs increasing significantly.

What if I just spend my compensation quickly?
Your entitlement to benefits could still be affected if you do not act in a way which is considered reasonable. Spending your compensation all at once on a shopping spree or using the money to pay off your mortgage are examples of where the Benefits Agency might conclude that you have attempted to defraud the system and you could be penalised as a result.