Major error in income to councils from care charges

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[1] 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!

[1] 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.

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