Adult Social Care charging policy

Status OPEN
Start date Tue 4 Jan 2022, 12:00pm
End date Mon 28 Mar 2022, 11:59pm

We are proposing to make changes to the way we calculate charges for social care services.

We are doing this because:

  • an individual complained about our charging policy. The issues they raised were considered by the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman, who investigates complaints against local authorities. The Ombudsman ruled that the way we calculate charges for arranging care services is unfair. The Ombudsman found that some people could end up paying more than the actual cost of providing their services
  • There has also been a legal challenge against another council. Its charging policy was found to be discriminatory because it could have resulted in higher charges for people with severe disabilities compared to those with less severe disabilities

We have reviewed our Charging Policy in order to address both of these points and we are proposing a revised policy. Our aim is to make the policy fairer.

Who is affected by the proposals?

The proposed changes would only affect those receiving support from social care and living in their own home.

It does not affect those living in residential care or nursing care.

It does not affect people we have assessed as not having to pay any contribution to their care.

What would be the effect of the proposals?

If you currently contribute to your care but do not pay the full cost, the changes may positively affect you.

If you contribute to the cost of your care but do not pay the full cost, the proposed changes will not mean you have to pay more.

If we have assessed you as having to pay the full cost of your care and ask us to arrange this care, the proposed changes will change how we calculate the administrative fee. You may be affected by the proposed changes. Some people may have to pay slightly more towards our administrative charges, while others may pay less.

More information about our proposals

Before you complete our survey please read the consultation document (PDF) and the draft of our proposed Charging Policy (PDF).

Consultation information

Who this affects

The issues on which we are consulting may affect:

  • people who are receiving social care services and are living in their own home and who are either -
    • assessed as needing to pay the full cost of their care and who choose the Council to arrange this care. These people currently pay us an administrative fee; or
    • aged 18 to 64 on higher rate disability-related benefits who are assessed as needing to contribute to the cost of their care package

The consultation will result in changes to our charging policy and the amounts individuals pay. 
 

Why we are making the changes

  • an individual complained about our charging policy. The issues they raised were considered by the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman, who investigates complaints against local authorities. The Ombudsman ruled that the way we calculate charges for arranging care services is unfair. The Ombudsman found that some people could end up paying more than the actual cost of providing their services
  • there has also been a legal challenge against another council. Its charging policy was found to be discriminatory because it could have resulted in higher charges for people with severe disabilities compared to those with less severe disabilities  

We have reviewed our Charging Policy to address both of these points and we are proposing a revised policy. Our aim is to make the policy fairer.

We would like to hear your views on the proposed revised policy before we make a final decision to adopt it.

What we considered

Government legislation and regulations
  • the Government has given councils the power to charge people what they are financially assessed as being able to afford towards the cost of their care. Councils can decide not to charge or charge people less than suggested
  • councils cannot charge people more than it costs to arrange the care
  • councils can charge people who have been financially assessed as being able to afford to pay the full cost of their packages a charge for arranging the care package
  • very few councils do not charge for home care or personal care service. If they do not charge, council taxpayers will pay more to meet those costs    

We believe that the Council’s current financial situation means we need to charge:

  • those people who are financially assessed as being able to pay a contribution for their services
  • those people who are financially assessed to pay the full cost of their care services for the cost of arranging care   

We considered taking into account only part of what people can afford to pay. However, we do not believe this is affordable as it would cost the Council up to £300,000 in lost income.

Options we have considered for calculating our administrative charges

Option Our current view
Continuing to apply a percentage rate which is a proportion of the cost of the care package This has been found to be unfair because it means that the arrangement and management charge increases as your needs and care package increase. This may mean people are paying more than it costs the council to arrange the care
Calculating the charges on an individual basis This would mean employing more staff, which would increase our costs and the amount we need to recover through our charges. This would mean that people would end up paying more
Introducing a fixed flat rate charge for arranging care, with people paying the same amount regardless of the size of the care package People would pay the same for a weekly package of two hours of care as others paying for 30 hours of care, although larger packages of care can be more time consuming and costly to arrange and monitor

Our aim is to put a policy in place that takes account of:

  • the fixed costs of arranging a care package - which is the same regardless of the size
  • the variable costs - which increase with the size of the package

Options we considered to address the unfairness to people on higher rate disability benefits

  • how we calculate care charges for those on higher rate Personal Independence Payments (PIP) or higher rate Disability Living Allowance (DLA) compared to those who have the same level of income from their employment. This is an issue because government regulations require us to disregard income from employment but allow us to take account of income from benefits
  • the Minimum Income Guarantee - the amount of money we must leave you to live on when we calculate our charges
  • the extra money people need to pay to live due to their disability, for example, extra travel costs
  • what benefits we take into account

Our proposals

The proposal on which we are consulting involves moving to an arrangement and management charge to arrange care for those who are paying the full cost of their care. This would be set in bands based on the number of hours of care individuals receive a week.

These charges would apply to those who can afford to fund their own care.

Proposed arrangement and management charges

Hours a week
(commissioned care)
Fixed Variable Total new charge Current charge
From
Current charge
To
Up to 7 hours £6.13 £1.41 £7.54 £1.63* £7.63
7 to 14 hours £6.13 £4.94 £11.07 £7.90 £15.25
14 to 21 hours £6.13 £8.23 £14.36 £15.52 £22.88
21 to 28 hours £6.13 £11.52 £17.65 £23.15 £30.50
More than 28 hours £6.13 £13.16 £19.29 £30.77 £59.83*

* The lowest and highest charges under the current policy will vary depending on the smallest and largest number of hours commissioned.

We are also proposing to:

  • put an appeals process in place for people who believe their charges are unfair. This will give you the opportunity to have your arrangement and management charge reviewed by a senior manager in Adult Social Care to ensure the impact of your individual circumstances are taken into account
  • increase the amount of minimum income guaranteed by 8.8% for people aged 18 to 64 on higher rate disability benefits
  • review our procedures to make sure that all those who receive disability benefits, who we financially assess as needing to contribute to the cost of their care package, know how we take account of the extra costs of their disability when calculating this amount
  • continue our current policy of disregarding the difference between the middle and top rate of Personal Independence Payments (PIP) because we believe that this helps to address the injustice highlighted in the legal challenge to another council’s charging policy

How the proposals would affect people who use our service

Likely to pay less Some severely disabled people of working age,
Some people who are paying the full cost of the care may pay up to £30 a week less for their arrangement and management charge. We will write to you individually if you currently pay an arrangement and management charge to let you know what your new charge will look like under the proposed policy.
 
Likely to pay more Some people who are paying the full cost of the care may pay up to £6 a week more for their arrangement and management charge. We will write to you individually if you currently pay the charge to let you know what your new charge will look like under the proposed policy.
Not affected* Severely disabled people of working age who do not make any contribution towards the cost of their services.
People who are of working age and not on higher rate disability-related benefits who contribute to their care costs, but do not pay the full cost of their care.
Older people who do not pay the full cost of their care.

* These people may be affected in the future if their financial circumstances change.

Examples showing how the proposal would affect a range of people who use the service are included in this pack. Under the proposed banding charges, service users will never be charged more than the actual arrangement cost for any care package. 

If you would like us to send you a paper copy of this information please email ASCChargingPolicyConsultation@bexley.gov.uk

You can get further information or ask questions at the following events:

Date Time Venue
Monday 10 January 2022 3pm to 4.30pm Online via Zoom
Meeting ID: 865 1084 5759
Passcode: 534491 
Wednesday 9 February 2022 4pm to 5pm Online via Zoom
Meeting ID: 846 4637 4524
Passcode: 135650
Thursday 3 March 2022 2pm to 4pm Chaucer Room, Central Library, 
2 Townley Road, Bexleyheath DA6 7HL
Please note that this venue may be subject to change dependent on the pandemic restrictions in affect at that time.
Wednesday 16 March 2022 12pm to 1pm Online via Zoom
Meeting ID: 865 9977 9470
Passcode: 518551

You can contact our team by calling 020 3045 3033 or emailing ASCChargingPolicyConsultation@bexley.gov.uk

Please let us know what you think about our proposals

Please share your views on our proposals before our deadline of 28 March 2022.

You can do this by:

completing our online survey

or completing a paper version of the survey.

A paper copy will have been posted to you if you are affected by the proposals with this letter (PDF). An easy read version of the letter is also available. 

If you would like a paper copy of the survey please email ASCChargingPolicyConsultation@bexley.gov.uk

What will happen after the consultation closes?

We will consider all the views we receive and review the proposals before we submit a report to the Council's Cabinet for a decision.

When the Cabinet makes its decision, we will write to those affected to let them know what it will mean for them.