Tuesday 22 February 2011
Nearly 1500 users of Adult Social Care services from Hampshire County Council and their carers have responded to a consultation on plans to change the way they contribute to their care costs so that we have a fairer and more transparent system.
Cabinet is due to consider the results of the consultation at its meeting on Monday February 28. The consultation results show that over 60 per cent of respondents support the introduction of a single contributions policy and believe that this is a fair way to ask people to contribute towards the costs of their care.
Around 90,000 people a year use a wide range of social care services funded by Hampshire County Council. The Adult Services department offers support to those with substantial and critical needs and this will not change.
Currently most, but not all, adult social care services are charged for, with service users contributing towards the cost of the services they use based on their financial circumstances, taking into account their ability to pay.
All councils are required to review their charging policies and to introduce personal budgets for social care by 2013.
The plans for a revised contributions policy would bring services under one policy and ensure that people choosing from the range of non residential services, such as personal care, which includes help with getting up and day care, and short term placements in a residential setting, would contribute based on their ability to pay not the services they choose.
The policy proposals would affect 13,000 people who have long term care needs and use non residential care services arranged by Hampshire County Council. Some services such as personal care, are already charged for, but day care and some other support services are not. This means that the current policy is not fair in that some people are having to make contributions to some services while others are not.
If agreed, the key policy changes would make the system fairer by:
* Introducing a new single policy for all services for which the council has discretion to charge. The policy aims are to promote independence for people living at home.
* Be fair through treating people equitably while recognising they have different financial means and care needs.
* Promote choice by simplifying the charging arrangements for the range of services available.
* Ensuring those who are assessed as being able to do so contribute towards the cost of their care.
Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Ken Thornber, said:
“As with all consultations everyone’s views are taken into account and Cabinet will look at these when considering the proposals relating to the way people contribute to their care costs. The Hampshire Local Involvement Network (LINk) have independently evaluated the responses on our behalf and we will be considering these findings along with their recommendations. We recognise the sensitivities relating to the issue of paying for adult social care, and Cabinet will want to ensure that any new policy is applied consistently and fairly across Hampshire.
“Social care services have never been free and charging some people for some services isn’t fair or consistent
“Services have changed in recent years as people want different things and the way we provide care has changed to support people to have increased independence and more choice. We need to update our contributions policy so that it treats people the same regardless of the services they choose. People would only pay what they could afford and the amount people would pay would differ from person to person, based on their personal budget and their individual financial assessment.
Given the current economic climate it is also more important than ever to ensure services provide value for money for the people who use them and for the Council taxpayer."
It is estimated that 60 per cent of people receiving care would not be affected by the proposals as they are either on low incomes or already paying their maximum contribution. Under a new policy, those who would be affected would pay an average increase of between £28 - £36 per week; but many would pay much less.
The amount people would pay would differ from person to person, based on their personal budget and individual financial circumstances. Most local authorities charge for services and have implemented new contributions policies to provide an equitable and value for money approach to social care.
Around £7.5 million of the council’s Adult Social Care budget of more than £300 million comes from charging for non residential services - this is below the average contributions rates of other councils. If proposals to change the County Council’s contributions policy are agreed, it is estimated they will generate additional income of around £3.9 – £5.4 million which would be used to offset the cost of services provided.
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