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Introduction

Research by the disability charity Scope estimates that on average, disabled people spend £550 a month on disability-related expenditure, including higher heating bills, buying specialised equipment, paying for taxis to get around or covering higher insurance premiums.

Paying for social care charges can make this even worse so it is important to have such Disability Related Expenditure properly recognised when it comes to any financial assessment

Legal Basis for Charging and Disability Related Expenditure

The Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 provides the legal basis for charging for non-residential care.  Under s87 of the Act charges must be both “reasonable and practicable” for an individual to pay. 

Understanding the associated additional daily living costs of living with an illness or a disability is essential if local authorities are to ensure charging levels meet this test.  Failure to take Disability Related Expenditure (DRE) into account as part of the financial assessment could result in charging levels which cause financial hardship and undermine the right of people living with an illness or disability to live independently.

COSLA’s National Strategy & Guidance on Charges Applying to Non-residential Social Care Services  2015/16 recognises the importance of taking DRE into account and states in paragraph 7.31 on page 31 that “to ensure the extra costs of being disabled are be taken into account by charging policies councils should be proactive in considering further disregard of income where additional expenditure is incurred by a service user as a result of living as a disabled person.”

 

What is Disability Related Expenditure

COSLA’s new proposals to solve accusations of unfairness in social care charging are claimed to help less than 500 people in Scotland.  

Ian Hood, Coordinator of the Learning Disability Alliance Scotland said that “only a handful of wealthy pensioners who need help with shopping will be the beneficiaries of this scheme.  Councils have increased care charges on disabled people by 21% in the last year alone and they are treating them as cash cows to make up for council cuts.”

COSLA is bringing in a new Standard Financial Assessment Template that is meant to help councils reduce the variation in charges for the same service from one area to the next.  

Over 100,000 people in Scotland receive social care and those not entitled to Free Personal Care such as disabled people under 65 or those who require other types of help such as shopping are asked to pay.  

Social Care charges have been the target of a vigorous campaign to resolve inconsistencies and unevenness in care charges across Scotland.  Scotland Against the Care Tax collected thousands of signatures on a petition and has built a coalition of user led organisations and charities to oppose this.  

However the new template, published this week in national guidance for councils, makes no changes in most of the charging rates applying in Scotland.  Disabled people will still pay up to 100% of their income after allowances.

Research by the disability charity Scope estimates that on average, disabled people spend £550 a month on disability-related expenditure, including higher heating bills, buying specialised equipment, paying for taxis to get around or covering higher insurance premiums.

Paying for social care charges can make this even worse so it is important to have such Disability Related Expenditure properly recognised when it comes to any financial assessment

Legal Basis for Charging and Disability Related Expenditure

The Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 provides the legal basis for charging for non-residential care.  Under s87 of the Act charges must be both “reasonable and practicable” for an individual to pay. 

Understanding the associated additional daily living costs of living with an illness or a disability is essential if local authorities are to ensure charging levels meet this test.  Failure to take Disability Related Expenditure (DRE) into account as part of the financial assessment could result in charging levels which cause financial hardship and undermine the right of people living with an illness or disability to live independently.

COSLA’s National Strategy & Guidance on Charges Applying to Non-residential Social Care Services  2015/16 recognises the importance of taking DRE into account and states in paragraph 7.31 on page 31 that “to ensure the extra costs of being disabled are be taken into account by charging policies councils should be proactive in considering further disregard of income where additional expenditure is incurred by a service user as a result of living as a disabled person.”

Read the full article offline and get a print copy of the DRE form

We thank you for the opportunity to respond to the Cabinet Secretary’s letter of 19th March 2015.  

We are pleased to note that Scottish Government remains in discussion with COSLA over this matter.    Resolving the question of social care charges is a key issue in establishing a fair Scotland which respects the human rights of disabled people.   

This has been a difficult problem for many years and one that has grown worse in recent years.  We are not surprised that it will take time to resolve.  It is heartening to see that our concerns are being taken seriously and are being discussed.  

We are do not believe that the Cabinet Secretary has answered the question that was put to her.  At the meeting on Tuesday, 17 February 2015 Jackson Carlow said:

"It was all a bit equivocal at the end of the evidence that we heard last time. I think that we want to get a much more specific idea of the timetable that the cabinet secretary is working towards. It would be useful.

“I welcome the approach that was being articulated, but nonetheless there is an urgency and a desire on the part of the committee to move this forward. The next step would be, after reflecting on the evidence given, to ask when the cabinet secretary expects things to coalesce into something a little more definitive."

It would appear that there is nothing more definitive that she can say nor is there the sense of urgency the committee was looking for.  

Hammersmith and Fulham Council announced they will be getting rid of the charges after saving money elsewhere

Elderly and disabled people in Hammersmith and Fulham Council will no longer have to pay for home care charges.

A total of 313 people who currently pay for carers to help carry out everyday tasks such as having a bath, cleaning or shopping will no longer have to pay the £12 an hour charge which can amount to £281 a week.

Council leader Stephen Cowan announced the changes at last night’s public meeting held to celebrate the United Nation’s international day of disabled people.

There are 1,666 people in the borough who use the home care service, with the majority eligible for free home care, but those who fall outside the threshold will not have to pay from April next year if the final decision is voted on at the council’s annual budget-setting process in February.

Mr Cowan said: “I am pleased we have found the money from back office cuts, such as from the council’s PR and admin budgets, and today announce that this administration will abolish what has rightly become known as a tax on disability.”

The council says that abolishing care charges will cost £324,000 a year in lost income but that the scheme is being funded by £400,000 cuts in PR, council publications and lamp post banners.