Hertfordshire County Council is proposing to make changes to how they charge for some types of community based adult social care services so that it ensures the system is as fair as possible to all residents.
Community-based care services support adults living at home and include things like home care, day care and transport. Around 8,000 people across the county using these services may be affected and HCC will be writing to all of them individually to tell them what the changes might mean for them. They also want to get their views on the proposed changes which can be viewed at: www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/chargingconsultation; feedback is welcomed from everyone.
Colette Wyatt-Lowe, Executive Member for Adult Care and Health, said: “In light of financial pressures on the Council, we are faced with some tough choices and want to protect the services we offer. We have a responsibility to ensure that we are helping those people who need our support the most. Every person eligible for a service will be financially assessed to establish their ability to pay, and no-one will be asked to pay more than they can afford.”
The proposals are:
- To take into account Higher Rate Attendance Allowance and Higher Rate Disability Living Allowance when deciding if or how much someone needs to contribute to their care;
- When more than one care worker is needed to provide a service the cost of the second care worker will be recovered (currently, there is only a charge for one care worker);
- An increase in flexi-care charges for people living in sheltered or assisted living accommodation;
- To charge £3.25 a week to people who receive a telecare service from Serco; and
- To increase the cost of transport to Day Care Services to £2 per journey, up from £1. The Council subsides this service as it costs £6.89 a journey.
The Council expects to raise approximately £4m from the proposed changes, but the Adult Care Service will still have to find further savings of £11m in 2018/19.
You can learn more about the proposals and get involved in the consultation in the following ways:
- Online at: www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/chargingconsultation
- Call: 01438 845477 (Mon to Fri 9am to 5pm);
- Post: Adult Care Services, Non-Residential (Community Based) Care Charging Consultation, SFAR225, Farnham House, Six Hills Way, Stevenage, SG1 2FQ; or
There is an easy read version of the consultation and also a FAQ’s available online. You can also call 01438 845 477 or email for more information.
You can also contact HertsHelp on 0300 123 4044 (Monday to Friday 8am - 6pm) for free and independent advice on paying for care.
The consultation runs until 31 December 2017, after which the responses received will be reviewed and presented to the cabinet for a decision in early 2018. If any changes are agreed, these would take effect in April 2018.
As a result of carers expressing concern about the proposed changes and wanting to learn more about them we organised a consultation event on Carers Rights Day (24th November 2017), and Iain MacBeath, Director of Adult Care Services at Hertfordshire County Council, outlined the proposals and answered carers' questions.
Around 40 carers attended and following their comments we have worked with carers to produce a response for the consultation to flag up their objections and alternative suggestions. You can read the consultation response on our Have your Say page - pdf Response to Hertfordshire County Council Adult Social Care Charging Increase Consultation (228 KB) .
The key objections and points raised included:
- The proposal to consider Higher Rate Attendance Allowance and Higher Rate Disability Living Allowance when deciding how much someone should contribute to their care will affect the most severely disabled people and put financial pressure on them, when they are already expecting cuts or a freeze to their benefits when they are transferred to Universal Credit;
- Charging for two care workers rather than one, when more than one is required, is discriminatory towards the person requiring care. It could discourage them from remaining at home or mean a heavier caring role for their family;
- Increasing the cost of transport to and from Day Care Services could mean an increase of £2 a day and up to £10 a week. This could be difficult for people on a limited income, such as those with a learning disability whose sole income in welfare benefits. A suggestion was made for investment in travel training for people who could learn to make their own way to Day Care Services, which would offset costs;
- Introducing charges for customers who receive a telecare alarm service from Serco could discourage people from continuing to use the service, which helps elderly or vulnerable people live alone more safely as they can alert someone if unwell or in difficulty;
- A call for the Council to improve guidance about what is counted as a Disability Related Expenditure and also to consider some health items such as continence pads and podiatry (for toe nail cutting) within these expenses.
Roma Mills, our Carers Policy and Engagement Manager, said: "Many carers, particularly parents, are already subsidising the costs of meeting a relative's support and social care needs. This is not sustainable. Increasing charges will inevitably put more pressure on peoples' budgets and could mean that they have to reduce the services received or reconsider living independently. For some, it could mean increased pressure on statutory services, such as the NHS. We hope that the Council considers the carers' concerns and not increase charging levels."
We have also written to all Hertfordshire MPs about the matter and asking for their support to protect social care and to persuade Hertfordshire County Council not to increase charging levels. You can read pdf the letter (123 KB) here.