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The Petitions Committee considered the Stop the Care Tax petition again on Tuesday 8th of December. They were struck by the difference in figures presented by the government which said that the immediate costs of ending care charges was £55 million and the ongoing annual costs was £330 million and those by SACT which said that the ongoing costs were only £20-25 million and only an additional 4-5 million per year caused by extension of charging.
The Committee agreed to write to the Scottish Government and Professor David Bell.
We think this will be very interesting as we don't think that the Scottish Government's figures add up and we also think that despite the impression given in other evidence Professor David Bell has nothing to do with these figures.
The Couriers published an interesting article on this today.
New research by LDAS has discovered a serious error in the way social care charges are being calculated in Scotland's largest local authority. For over 5 years, we have raised concerns about the veracity of COSLA figures for the amount of income collected in non-residential social care charges. Glasgow claimed to raise over £16 million annually but the next nearest is South Lanarkshire with only a slightly smaller population but raising just £2 million. Our concern that the Glasgow figure could not possibly be correct was raised with senior local authority finance people but nothing was done.
New information we received in the last few weeks shows that Glasgow’s self-directed support care management information software, CareFirst 6, wraps up individual contributions along with their Independent Living Fund monies and declares it as a single contribution from each client. .
Senior Glasgow finance staff have now confirmed that the ILF contributions of 254 clients with a learning disability, a total of £5.3 million are included in their figures for income from care charges. And there are a further 310 service users in Glasgow with physical disabilities who receive ILF and whose ILF is similarly treated within the financial figures. This means that at least £10 million and possibly as much as £14 million of ILF monies have been declared as income from non-residential social care charges by Glasgow for at least the last 6 years. Actual income from care charges in Scotland’s largest city may be only £2-3 million per year rather than the £16 million claimed in the last financial year.
According to OLM, the company responsible for this software, a further 13 Scottish councils use the CareFirst system ranging from Highlands to East Dunbartonshire. As a result there is a possibility that the COSLA figure for income from care charges is further inflated by the inclusion of ILF funds in this part of the local government finance statistics from other areas.
This matters because artificially inflated figures will make it seem harder for the Scottish Government to end social care charges. Time to correct the sums!
 http://www.glasgow.gov.uk/councillorsandcommittees/viewDoc.asp?c=P62AFQDXNT0GUTZL – this report notes that £14.5 million is received by service users in Glasgow from the ILF. But we believe the figure involved in this error is lower as many pre 1993 ILF users are not known to local authorities.
Social care is an equality and human rights issue and, therefore, should be free at the point of delivery. But many disabled people pay large amounts for their care and the current system sees charging procedures differ considerably between local authorities.
October saw the launch of a consultation on a private members bill to abolish all social care charges. Siobhan MacMahon MSP wants your views on should there be a new law. You can make your comments on this at siobhanmcmahon.org/endthecaretax and you can also download some Easy Read material from our website to help.
At the same time the Scottish Government might be making plans to change the social care charging system. Cabinet Secretary Shona Robison spoke at a recent Petitions Committee and said
- They had a university professor to look at what it would cost to make charges fairer.
- She agrees in principle that a fairer social care charging system is needed.
- Any reform would be for all service users regardless of disability or condition.
- Whatever they chose to do would depend on November’s spending review.
We think this means that we may see a break through on this matter soon. Please help us keep up the pressure by making this consultation a success.
MSP Siobhan McMahon today launched a consultation on the abolition of non-residential social care charges.The consultation was launched at the Scottish Parliament and will be open until Friday 30th January 2016.
Currently, many disabled people are being driven into poverty due to the increasing amounts of money that they have to pay as a contribution towards their social care.
Ms McMahon believes that non-residential social care is an equality and human rights issue and, therefore, should be free at the point of delivery. She also believes that the current system is unfair, because charging procedures for these care services differ considerably between local authorities.
Previously, a petition was lodged at the Scottish Parliament by the ‘Scotland Against the Care Tax’ group which was signed by 4013 people and urged the Scottish Government to abolish all local authority charges for non-residential social care services.
The consultation has received backing from many organisations including the ‘Scotland Against the Care Tax’ group, Learning Disability Alliance Scotland, and Quarriers, who were all represented at the launch event.
There were also a number of people present from across Scotland who have experienced first-hand the difficulties these charges can present to disabled people who wish to enjoy the things in life that non-disabled people take for granted.