TOWN hall bosses are bracing themselves for a costly legal battle with the borough’s care home providers over an increase in their payments.
Council chiefs offered to raise the fees they pay residential and nursing homes operators by 2.15 per cent.
But they face stiff opposition from a number of private care firms, who want a much larger increase.
After meetings between the sides ended without agreement, a number of care homes launched a legal bid to challenge the council’s figures.
Council officials now fear the dispute will end up being decided by judicial review, which could leave both sides with hefty legal bills.
On Friday, the council’s cabinet approved plans to pay care homes the 2.15 per cent increase on an interim basis until agreement can be reached. Officials had warned that without the payments some homes could go bust.
Mike Wyatt, the council’s director of adult social care, said further discussions would continue.
He added: “This is a particularly litigious area and there have a number of successful challenges in the High Court against other authorities.”
Mr Wyatt said the council had used care home budget costs to arrive at their offer.
Care homes are challenging the way that figure was worked out, claiming the council’s methodology was “flawed”.
St Helens Council currently pays £14m per year to OAP care homes. Council chiefs have a statutory duty to provide care home places for needy OAPs.
No one from the St Helens Care Homes Association was available for comment.