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Today LDAS is pleased to launch its 2014 version of the Care Charge Calculator.
· If you are looking for a care service for the first time, you can use this to check what you might be asked to pay.
· If you already have a care service then you can use this to check that the local council has got its sums right or you can check what you might pay in a neighbouring local authority.
It is one of the great injustices in Scotland that not only are people charged for their care services but that those charges vary from council to council by considerable amounts.
You don’t need to be able to work a spreadsheet to use this. All you need are accurate information about your benefits and costs such as rent. You will also need to know what support you will get and if you are going to get an Individual Budget.
This is stored on Google Docs and you can use it freely. You will need to delete any numbers in ColumnB that may have left there by other users. If you want you can download a version of the original Excel Spreadsheet by clicking here.
In a new report, LDAS have uncovered the hidden effects of social care cuts in Scotland. Over 20,000 older people, people with learning disabilities and others are no longer getting vital social support since the start of the 2007 economic recession. Easy Read Version
By examining Government statistics and comparing them to the growth in the elderly population we have found that many people who might previously been eligible for social care services are no longer getting help.
In the last 6 years the numbers getting home care in Scotland have fallen by 11,000 and the numbers in residential care have fallen by 2,000. But at the same time the number of people over 65 has continued to grow. If the same proportion of people were still getting help in 2013 as were in 2007 then a total of 20,000 more people would be getting care at home or residential care.
LDAS has long argued that the cuts in public spending would not focus on large scale closure of services such as that proposed by Quarriers last month at Seafield School in Ayrshire but would be about smaller changes in the individual’s packages of care. These new numbers back this up.
The biggest fall has been in people who would previously have got 4 or less hours of support a week. The Scottish Campaign For A Fair Society carried out a Freedom of Information request into changes in Eligibility Criteria. These are rules which determines who gets support and who doesn’t. We have analysed the replies and it appears that most councils in Scotland have now adopted the new 2009 national criteria.
The Learning Disability Alliance Scotland has discovered new evidence that charges for social care are still rising at five times the rate of inflation. New figures published by the Scottish Government earlier this week show that councils now generate almost £50 million from people living on state benefits to subsidise their statutory duties.
While the amount collected in charges has reduced in homecare, this has been more than compensated by the rise in Direct Payments and reflects a more general move of people from getting homecare organised by the council to arranging for themselves directly.
This 10% increase over the last financial year shows an accelerating increase in the amount councils take from people with disabilities from a 4% increase in 2011 and a 7% increase in 2012.
|All Scotland - Income from charging Social Work Clients - all figures £000s|
|Year ending||2010||2011||2012||2013||Increase over
the last year
|TOTAL INCOME FROM CHARGES TO SERVICE USERS||40322||42571||46153||51610||10.6%|
At a time when disabled people are being hit by cuts in services and changes to welfare benefits, its is hard to see how councils justify this. We think this will continue to drive more and more people out of the care system who can arrange care for themselves at cheaper rates.
Forth Valley Stronger Together group was really worried earlier this year when they found out that Stirling Council was planning more increases in its charging for social care services. Councillors were being told that they should raise the Care Tax rate from 75% to 100%. Already the tax rate in the area was one of the highest in the country but the new proposals would leave people in poverty.
The group talked about the matter and then wrote to the council saying this was in an increase of over 30% of the level of charges that people would have while their income would only go up by 2%. It simply wasn't fair.
The councillors listened and Stirling Council rejected plans to raise the charges by this level. Overall charges may still be going up in Scotland but at least we have had a bit of sense from Stirling.
Care Charging has many complications in it. One of the latest is a back door method where councils try to bring mobility DLA into their financial calculations by expecting people who get self directed support to use their DLA for travel costs by reducing their individual budget.
Most councils know that mobility DLA cannot be included as income for charging. Their own policies state this and the national COSLA guidance reiterates this. However we know that a number of councils have been suggesting that where a person has mobility DLA they will expect them to use this to pay for taxis, buses or car costs to get to and from social work services. For example, in Glasgow, a number of families have been told that they will have to start getting their sons and daughters to their day services because the council will not provide travel to those with mobility DLA. According to them this is double funding.
However it is unlikely that many have ever looked at the legislation that covers mobility DLA. This states
A payment to or in respect of any person which is attributable to his entitlement to the mobility component, and the right to receive such a payment, shall (except in prescribed circumstances and for prescribed purposes) be disregarded in applying any enactment or instrument under which regard is to be had to a person’s means.
A social care assessment is carried out under the Social Work Scotland 1968 Act and as such mobility DLA should be completely disregarded from the assessment process. This means that local authorities cannot take into account whether a person does or does not get Mobility DLA. Those who do get it should be treated no different than those who don't. its time councils took their hands off people's Mobility DLA.