Devon County Council care homes closures temporarily halted

Elderly people
Image caption Only two residential homes with dementia facilities are to stay open

Plans to close Devon County Council care homes have been put on hold because of a legal challenge, the council says.

In June, the council announced plans to shut 20 homes in a bid to slash social care spending by £10.7m.

More than 750 jobs are facing being lost and 260 residents moved into private care homes over 18 months if the proposals go ahead.

The council said it had appealed against the challenge.

The Conservative-controlled council, which is trying to cut its spending by a third to £400m a year by 2017, announced the closures, claiming its own homes were too expensive to run.

'Appeal submitted'

Only two council-run residential care homes, with specialist dementia facilities, were to remain open in Newton Abbot and Torrington, it previously said.

It said it had been "asked by the court to temporarily suspend the closure programme until this challenge has been resolved".

"We are therefore pausing all resident assessments and staff notice meetings pending further legal advice and will continue to provide appropriate care to all residents living in our homes."

The union Unison previously criticised the move as a "shocking example" of "devastating cuts".

However, Devon Unison branch secretary Steve Ryles said the news of the challenge had the branch "as surprised as anyone else".

He said: "It could be expensive for both parties - our concerns have to be with the homes [which] are currently under threat of closure where notice letters have already been issued to the staff.

"For relatives and their families it means more uncertainty - they'll be sitting there wondering what is going on."

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