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|09 Feb 2016|
This chart uses Scottish Government statistics to show one consequence of government policy on social care charges. Rising Social Care Charges are linked to falling numbers of people getting the vital support that we need. There has been much talk about "demographic time bombs" and the "growing demands" of disabled people. Yet this charts show that in just a few years the number of people getting help has fallen by thousands. As one senior member of a local authority social work department put it to us - "care charges are part of demand management." However we have yet to hear anyone proclaim this policy a success. Perhaps this is something that is being kept quiet.
David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation suggests that the decision in George Osbourne's Spending Review that Housing Benefit for social housing should be capped at the same level as private sector could reduce supported tenancy housing benefit payments by up to £100 per week.
As there is no Local Housing Allowance for supported housing in the private rented sector, this seemingly minor, technical amendment could lead to virtually all supported housing for people under 35 to disappear, as many housing associations, councils and voluntary organisations rely on Local Housing Allowance to make up the additional costs.
Orr is lobbying to have this changed and says "We are told that it is not the intention of the Government to cause this problem for housing association running supported housing. If that is indeed the case it can resolve the problem immediately and easily. All it needs to do is agree that ‘specified housing’ is exempt from the rent cut and exempt from the local housing allowance limit. This decision must be made and it must be made quickly. If it does not happen, the consequences for tens of thousands of our most vulnerable fellow citizens are too awful to contemplate."
The Department for Work and Pensions said it was committed to supporting vulnerable people and details of how the policy will be implemented are still being worked on. Read More Here
For over 5 years, LDAS has raised concerns about whether the COSLA figures for the amount of income collected in non-residential social care charges.
For example, one local authority, Glasgow, claims to raise over £16 million annually. Yet the next nearest is South Lanarkshire with only a slightly smaller population but raising just £2 million. Our concerns that the Glasgow figure could not possibly be correct were raised with senior local authority finance people at both local and national level but nothing was done.
New information received by the Learning Disability Alliance Scotland 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.
This makes sense for the council when it comes to working out their own budgets but gives the completely wrong figure for social care charges.
For the last 5 years campaigners have been fighting against the closure of the Independent Living Fund. Disabled people were worried that ILF monies would be swallowed up by local councils who would reduce services or just count the ILF monies as part of their own income.
In Scotland, it was thought the campaign was won with the launch of a new Scottish Independent Living Fund in May of this year.
But this information from Glasgow indicates that at least one council is treating SILF funds as income to meet needs the council would normally fund.
As a result individuals are losing control over money that the Scottish Government says should be theirs to spend on their care as they want.
We need clearer rules about how local authorities treat SILF monies.
In January 2015, we published a short report called “The Start” looking at the first 6 months of Self Directed Support and what was being planned. It found a hesitant approach that showed that there had been few real developments in SDS. We said that when the social care statistics were published in late 2015, we would have a better national picture of how SDS was developing.
There was a total of 6,000 people on Direct Payments in 2013-14 before the introduction of SDS . In 2014-15 this would need to rise to 6,600 just to keep up the momentum of development.
The figures have now been published. And the number of people with Direct Payments has risen but ONLY to 6,450. This is the first indication that the introduction of the Self Directed Support Act may not have increased user choice in control.
In fact further analysis shows that in a range of local authorities things have got worse. In 11 local authorities the numbers of people receiving Direct Payments actually fell.