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With many people paying charges for their care for the first time, it comes as a surprise to find out how high the tax rate is compared to the other taxes in Britain today. How much of their income they will pay depends on the Care Tax rate for that local authority. These tax rates are set annually by local authorities and there is considerable local variation in rates used. Many councils can charge up to 100%. 25 charge a rate higher than the income tax level for the richest people in the country. Only one charges less than the Standard rate of Income Tax.
A small number of councils apply higher rates to those over 60 than they do to those under 60. These include Glasgow (100%), North Ayrshire (50%) and Edinburgh (70%).
100% on the spare income after allowances of people getting care is a higher tax rate than anyone else in the country has to pay. For comparison we have included in the table the major applicable tax rates for the UK.
The current highest tax rate in the UK is for people who are high earners and only applies to income above the level of £41,400. Care Tax payers in 25 local authorities pay higher rates.
On Wednesday 21st August, David Williams, Head of Social Work and Cllr Matt Kerr, lead for Health & Social Care spoke to people with learning disabilities and their families. Before the meeting campaigners wore "Gordon Matheson" masks in protest at the fact that the council leader wouldn't attend.
Inside the speaker received a rough reception as the worry and stress that people have been living with spilled over. Families talked about the challenges that their sons and daughters had faced during transition and how they dreaded more disruption. People with learning disabilities spoke up about how they valued their friendship, the security and the staff that they enjoyed.
Matt Kerr tried to reassure them that anybody who didn't go to a day centre any more would still get help to "maintain their friendships". However according to internal documents seen by LDAS this is likely to amount to no more than a "regular (possibly monthly) open ‘meet and greet event’. On an ongoing basis this could be tasked to the local coordinators when in post."
Rumours are beginning to emerge from deep within Edinburgh Council that a change of approach to supported employment in Edinburgh will be announced in September. After much discussion and a lot of campaigning, councillors from Edinburgh seem to be proposing a Status Quo approach for the next year. During that time, careful thought will be given to how new developments can be married with the existing structure of services to ensure that people continue to get support. Serious attention is likely to be given to whether competitive tendering is an appropriate way to manage supported employment services and a more constructive approach will be looked at.
This is likely to mean the Engine Shed will continue to receive financial support from Edinburgh City Council so the trainees, bakery, canteen and tofu users as well as staff can breathe easily.
Also those who use services like the Real Jobs Project to get into mainstream employment will not have to worry about their support being pulled away from them.
Other projects like the Woodhall, Scottish Braille Press, Intowork and Forth Sector will also benefit from this.
Today the Scottish Government launched its new consultation into what will replace the Independent Living Fund in Scotland. While there is a lot to work out, the Scottish Government’s intention is that current recipients should not have their existing funding taken away unless their personal circumstances change and they become ineligible. This should be a relief to many people who are worried that they might face their funds vanishing into the black hole of local councils' social work departments.
A key promise is that the Scottish Government will therefore seek to implement a scheme which will enable current recipients to continue to receive the same award as they would have had, had the Fund not been abolished, for so long as they continue to meet the eligibility criteria which gave them access to the Fund. Their ability to support such a scheme is subject to sufficient levels of funding being devolved from the UK Government to the Scottish Government for this purpose.
As a result the main focus of the consultation is what to do with the relatively small amount of money that will be freed up each year as people's needs change or people stop their claims. The devolved ILF money will come to about £50 million and current estimates suggest that about 10% of ILF funds become available each year. So we are talking about £5 million to start with.
Nearly two years ago the Scottish Government and COSLA responded to political pressure on Unfair Care Charges by setting up a working group to look at reforming the current mess. But nothing seems to have changed for people with disabilities except that more and more are being charged for their services.
The working group was a response to a study by Capability Scotland which showed that few councils took account of Disability Related Expenditure, the extra costs of being disabled when they worked out charges.
At a time when many are facing challenges such as loss of Housing Benefits due to the Bedroom Tax, the loss of benefits by being put in the wrong support group as part of the ESA work Capability Test and cuts in support, its ridiculous that people have to pay for their services in a way that no one understands. Some people pay £50 a week, others a lot more and yet others nothing at all.
LDAS asked councils how much they charged for an hour of support. We wanted to see how much these rates had come into line. Instead they had got worse! Click on the map above to see details of your local area. You can see some councils charge £23 an hour in care charges while others charge only £8. In any area in Scotland you can buy care from the private sector for £10-£12, from the voluntary sector for about £15 - so why the variation - who knows - certainly not COSLA or the Scottish Government.
This must end! The Learning Disability Alliance Scotland is working with other organisations to establish a joint campaign against this unfair tax.