Cabinet to consider changes to charges for adult social care services

Ref: PR 8287
Date: 19/07/2016

Wakefield's key decision makers are to consider proposals to change the way adult social care services are charged.

A report going to Cabinet on 26 July recommends that a six-week consultation is held to get the views of all residents, as well as those who use and provide the services.

The Council's current charging policy was agreed in March 2015, and is compliant with the Care Act. At the time, the Council agreed that some elements of the Care Act should be considered at a later date, to reduce the immediate impact on service users. Wakefield is now reviewing the legislation and guidance because of the need to support the future sustainability of essential social care services.

The challenges faced by councils, across the country, to fund social care are huge. In Wakefield the demand is increasing by around 5% every year and over £140m – a major part of the Council's budget - is being spent on social care every year. Even with the 2% precept which the Government implemented this year, Wakefield will be looking at a funding gap, in excess of £20m in the next five years.

The proposals in the report include removing the cap on the maximum weekly charge for non-residential services, a possible charge for commissioning services and a potential to charge higher rates for care components, as well as the implementation of a discretionary Deferred Payments Scheme.

The report makes it clear that if any of these changes were implemented no-one would be asked to pay more than their financial assessment says they can afford.

Cllr Pat Garbutt, Cabinet Member for Adults and Health said: "Changes to some of the regulations in the Care Act 2014, means that we have to look at our charging policy. We know the proposals would benefit some people, but not others, so it is very difficult, however no-one will be asked to pay more than they can afford, based on their financial assessment.

"The growing demand for adult social care means that changes have to be made. To continue as we are is simply not an option. We have a duty to provide social care services for the district's vulnerable adults, and to sustain this we must do things differently.

"At this stage these are only proposals and no decision has been made, so it is essential that people use the consultation to feedback and tell us what they think."

The report goes to Cabinet for discussion on 26 July, at Wakefield's Town Hall.