Here is everything you need to know about changes to adult social care in Doncaster

A number of changes are set to be introduced to adult social care services in Doncaster, including price rises, new charges and changes to the eligibility criteria for some services.

By George Torr, Local Democracy Reporter
Friday, 28th February 2020, 4:00 pm
Updated Friday, 28th February 2020, 4:00 pm
Stock image to illustrate adult social care. Picture: Brian Eyre
Stock image to illustrate adult social care. Picture: Brian Eyre

Health bosses have outlined a number of areas which could result in charges and eligibility change for a number of residents who use particular services.

The council says the finances of vulnerable people ‘will be protected by the financial assessment process’, which supports their minimum income guarantee.

They add that some people may have to contribute more for their care and support, but charges will be ‘limited to levels that the Government judge people can afford’ and their contributions will be ‘fairly assessed’.

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Around 64 per cent of the council’s budget is spent on looking after vulnerable adults and children. Despite increases in adult social care funding through council tax precepts and Government grants, the department is still under pressure.

The changes, when fully rolled out, will increase council income by around £2 million.

Some changes mooted include increased charges for the Home Alarm Service, a bump in price for day services and transport arrangement and the way council officers handles residents’ financial affairs.

Other proposals include changes to criteria and what people are entitled to.

From 248 residents who responded to the consultation to the changes in adult social care, 34 per cent agreed with the proposals, 32 per cent disagreed and 32 per cent neither agreed or disagreed.

Howard Monk, head of service, strategy and performance at DMBC, said: “No reductions in services are planned as a result.

“The changes described will serve to protect services and are more likely to result in improvements, which will actually have a positive impact on outcomes for people.

“The finances of vulnerable people will be protected by the financial assessment process, which supports their minimum income guarantee. Some people may have to contribute more for their care and support, but charges will be limited to levels that the Government judge people can afford.

“Their contributions will be fairly assessed and people will have more choice in their support from a wider range of improved services."

Cabinet members rubber-stamped the proposals at a meeting held on Tuesday, February 25.

Here are the aspects of adult social care that are set to change:

- Home Alarm Service

Current arrangement: The service costs £3.30 a week which the council says has ‘not changed significantly for a number of years’.

Exemptions include people aged 65 and over who get housing benefit or council tax support.

Why is the change happening?

The council has said they lose around £1 million a year providing the service and due to expected increases in demand will soon become ‘unaffordable’.

New arrangement: A pendant alarm will increase to £3.64 a week and an extra of £1.50 for a for someone at the council to respond to that person.

- Day Services

Current arrangement: The current chargeable cost of daycare is £31 per person per day for those who can afford it regardless of need.

Why is the change happening?

The costs of providing day services are rising every year and it actually costs the council more than is currently charged.

New arrangement: The maximum current charge per day was going to increase from £31 to £46 for moderate support and from £31 to £76 for high level support - subject to financial assessment.

But officers scrapped it following consultation and agreed to raise the maximum rate to £31.53 in line with inflation.

Transport

Current arrangement: People are charged a flat rate of £3 for their transport to day care regardless of finances.

Why is the change happening?

Social care bosses say providing the services actually costs the council around £10 per journey.

New arrangement: Journeys will rise to £4 in April 2020 and to £5 the year after.

- Safeguarding personal assets

Current arrangement: The Council’s Safeguarding Adults Personal Assets Team (SAPAT) looks after financial, property and personal matters for around 500 people who cannot do this for themselves or do not have family help. The council currently charges for deputyship but it does not charge for appointeeship.

Why is the change happening?

The Council is not required to directly provide this service but would mean people would have to pay someone else to help them.

Social care bosses want to carry on the service for vulnerable people, but say it is ‘difficult to do without charging where it is lawful and reasonable’.

New arrangement:

Any resident in the social care system will pay between £2.03 and £48 depending on the person’s assets/money and residential situation between £0 and £15,999.

- Arrangements for people who pay for their own care in full

Current arrangement: Residents who have over £23,250 investments/bonds but not the value of their home, are deemed by central government as eligible to pay for their own care.

The council helps around 450 people in this group to arrange their care without charging them. The majority of people in this group make their own care arrangements.

Why is the change happening?

Arranging care means the council has to incur administrative costs for a group of people who are regarded by national rules as having the means to fund their own care.

New arrangement: A yearly administration fee of £300 will be charged for people in this bracket. The cost covers the organisation, set up and paperwork costs but not advice.

- Financial Assessment Procedure Changes

Current arrangement: No matter how much a home care and support package costs, the council will only charge those who are deemed able to afford to pay a maximum of £429.20 per week.

Why is the change happening?

The council say it costs more than the maximum for their care and support package for some people, but does not ask for more than the £492.20 a week fee.

New arrangement: The maximum amount will be removed and instead charge the full cost of the service provided to those people who can afford to pay, in future.

The council says financial assessments will be used, to make sure that costs ‘do not increase disproportionately and that people do not suffer financial hardship’.

- Enhanced daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Current arrangement: People are financially assessed for adult services on income from a variety of benefits due to long-term illness or disability.

These include Attendance Allowance (AA), Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and the enhanced daily living component of Personal Independence Payments (PIP).

But the enhanced rate of PIP is not currently taken into account -£28.95 a week more than the standard rate.

Why is the change happening?

Bosses say many other councils take both components of PIP into account and there is ‘no clear reason’ why it should be exempt as compared to other benefits paid to people with a long-term illness or disability.

New arrangement: The proposal is to move towards including all of the enhanced rate of PIP in financial assessments from April 2020.

- Financial assessments for residential respite and short stay care

Current arrangement: People who access respite services - taking a break from looking after a loved one - are subject to charges under financial assessment.

Laws allow council the carry out the financial assessment under ‘residential or non-residential’ rules. The council does this under non-residential rules.

Why is the change happening?

The council say it ‘does not seem logical’ to charge a residential arrangement against non-residential rules.

New arrangement: Where the respite and short stay care is residential based, the proposal is that in future the financial assessment for this service would be carried out under the residential care rules.

- The Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG)

Current arrangement: The Minimum Income Guarantee is a sum of a person’s income which should not be used towards care charges.

Doncaster Council has a policy that people aged 18-24 should not use £136.31 per week of income. This increases to £155.31 for those aged 25-64 and £209.06 for 65 and over.

Why is the change happening?

The Government has its own guidelines which are different from Doncaster’s ranging between £3.86 a week to £20 a week.

New arrangement: Doncaster will align their Minimum Income Guarantee with the Government’s own guidelines which will bring in extra income to the council but cap rises at three per cent per year until it reaches the same level.