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Agenda Item No

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 16th November 2011.

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Social Care and Health

 

Community Care Charges for Non-Residential Services

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To seek Cabinet approval for a revised charging policy in respect of non-residential social care services, in accordance with the Social Care Charges (Wales) Measure 2010 (hereinafter referred to as the Measure), Regulations and Guidance.

Recommendations

That Cabinet:

 

1.             Approves the revised charging policy for non-residential social care services.

2.             Notes the impact of implementing the new legislation on the Council's financial position to date.

3.             Receives a further report detailing the financial impact of the new legislation at the end of the first year of implementation.

4.             Agrees the charges for 2011/2012 in respect of non-residential social care services provided by the Council.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.             To ensure that the Council complies with the requirements of the Measure, Regulations and Guidance issued by the Welsh Government.

2.             To inform Members about the financial impact of implementing the new legislation.

3.             To update Members about the financial impact of implementing the new legislation.

4.             To agree revised charges for 2011/2012.

Background

2.             A charging policy for non-residential community care services has been in operation in the Vale of Glamorgan since 1993.  It was last reviewed in 2004 when revised guidance was received from the Welsh Assembly Government.  The charging policy must be changed now to ensure it complies with the Measure, Regulations and Guidance issued by the Welsh Government, which became effective in April 2011.  Draft guidance notes were issued to local authorities in April and the finalised documents were received in July 2011.  A copy is available in the Members Room.

3.             The Measure does not place a duty on local authorities to impose charges but it does set out:

·               detail as to those services that can and can not be charged for; and

·               guidance regarding the setting of a reasonable charge for such services. 

         The legislation gives local authorities discretion to impose their own charging policy;

          however, this must comply with the requirements set out in the legislation and

          guidance.

Relevant Issues and Options

4.             This report highlights where the existing policy needs to be changed to ensure that it meets Welsh Government requirements.  A copy of the draft revised policy for the Vale of Glamorgan is attached at Appendix A, which includes Annex A and Annex B and the Cabinet is asked to approve the changes.  The policy applies to all non-residential services, either provided directly or commissioned by the Vale of Glamorgan Council.  The charging policy is designed to be fair and reasonable. In appropriate circumstances, service users will be asked to make a weekly contribution towards the cost of the following services:

·               Home care - those services either provided directly or commissioned by the Council;

·               Day services - those services either provided directly or commissioned by the Council;

·               Domestic services and personal care - provided through Supporting People services; and

·               Supported Living accommodation.

5.             There are a small number of services for which no charge will be levied and these are detailed in the policy.  For low-cost services, a flat rate will be charged.  These include meals received at home or in day services and laundry services.  Service users will be charged in addition to and separately from any charges that may be levied for other services.  .

6.             The policy clarifies that the Council will not charge more than the actual costs of providing a service.  An individual service user will be asked to pay whichever is lower, their assessed charge or the cost of providing the service. 

7.             The key change to the policy is that there is a maximum weekly charge which can be levied by the Council.  The Welsh Government set this figure at £50 per week for 2011/2012.  This is a significant change for the Vale of Glamorgan as the previous policy did not specify a maximum charge.

8.             The introduction of the maximum charge means that individuals who previously funded their own care (because of the level of financial resources available to them) are now entitled to financial support from the Council.  As at September 2011, seventy-eight clients who had previously been self-funders are now being supported financially by the Council and paying the £50 maximum charge.  The number of service users in this position is expected to increase during the year.

9.             The other key change to the policy is that transport to and from day services opportunities will be provided free of charge where the transport is provided by or arranged by the local authority and where attendance at the day service and transport to it is included in the service user's assessment of need.

10.        The process by which individuals are asked to share financial information has also changed and the details are in the revised policy.

11.        Regulations issued pursuant to the Social Care Charges (Wales) Measure 2010 create a right for a service user or direct payments recipient to request, via a consistent process a review of the decision to impose a charge, contribution or reimbursement, in respect of the services they receive.  Guidance issued by the Welsh Government under S.7 of the Local Authority's Social Services Act 1970 sets out that this initial review process should involve the local authority itself reflecting upon the decision it has made and taking a view as to whether its original decision was correct in the light of further information and / or documentation that the service user, or a representative acting for them, provides.  The guidance sets out, therefore, that the review process does not involve a third party considering this but could involve a different person from the local authority considering it other than the one involved in the original decision.  The review process does not seek to replicate the wider formal complaints procedure which the authority is required to operate.  It is proposed that a review process be implemented which follows the regulations / guidance and a copy of the review process proposed by the Vale of Glamorgan is included as Annex B to the Charging Policy.  Where a service user is still unhappy with local authority's charging decision they will, as now, be able to make a formal complaint about this to the local authority and this will be considered through the local authority's formal complaints procedure.

12.        Non residential community care services are made available through a range of providers, including the Council.  Those clients who receive their service from the independent sector are charged in accordance with the hourly rate that the provider charges the Council.  Having received the new guidance from the Welsh Government, it is now possible to review the charges made for services directly provided by the Council.  Currently, clients who receive home care are being charged £11.62 per hour, which is less than the full cost of the service.  It is proposed that, with effect from 4th December 2011, this is increased to £12.50 to match the average cost in the independent sector.

13.        It is proposed to amend the charges for day services to reflect the impact of the recent reconfiguration.  Historically, the Council has subsidised directly provided services and so clients have only made a contribution to the costs of the services received.  Where services are provided by the independent sector, the client is charged whichever is lower, their assessed charge or the cost of the service. 

14.        It is proposed that the Council moves to full cost recovery for these services.  Recognising the impact on some service users, this would be an incremental change, phased in over a three-year period.  The revised unit costs have been calculated and these are shown in the table below, together with the proposed charges for the remainder of this year are shown below.


 

 

Client group

Current charge

Unit cost

Proposed charge from 1st December 2011

Proposed charge from 1st April 2012

Older People

*£15.56 / £31.12

£52.65

£25

£38

Learning Disability

£31.12

£45.89

£35

£47

Physical Disability

£31.12

£56.20

£35

£47

 

* £15.56 at Rondel House and £31.12 at Gardenhurst.

15.        It is proposed that the charge for meals provided at day services settings or by the Meals on Wheels service is increased from £2 to £2.50.

16.        The move towards cost recovery for in-house services will be linked with renewed efforts to ensure that these are managed and operated as efficiently as possible, including changes in the senior management structure already introduced. 

17.        Because of the new cap on the charges that can be made for services, no service user funded by the Council will be required to pay more than £50 a week for the non- residential social care services they receive.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment and Climate Change, if appropriate)

18.        To assist local authorities with the implementation of the new maximum charge, the Welsh Government has allocated a grant to each Local Authority in 2011/2012.  The allocation for this Council is £373,000.

19.        As at September 2011, it is estimated that the loss of income to the Council as a result of implementing the Measure is £1.4m.  This is based on a sample week in September at which time 533 service users were being charged for non residential services.  Of this number 225 individuals had their assessed charge capped at £50 per week.  Prior to April, 2011 these individuals would either have paid the total cost of their care or would have paid more than £50 per week.  This has been reported to the Welsh Government and an urgent meeting has been arranged with the relevant officers.  The budget position resulting from the change is being monitored on a monthly basis.

20.        Within the budget for 2011/2012, it was intended that the Council would no longer provide free transport to day service for clients in receipt of DLA mobility allowance.  Because such a change to the policy would put the Council in breach of the Welsh Government requirements set out in the new guidance, it will not proceed and the savings of £130,000 in the current financial year will not be made.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

21.        Section 17 of the Health and Social Services and Social Security Adjudications Act 1983 (HASSASSA) is the legislation under which local authorities have had discretion to charge for non-residential social care services.  HASSASSA provided the local authority with discretion as to whether it charged for non-residential services and guidance had been issued to local authorities pursuant to that legislation on the exercise of its discretion if it charged for non-residential services.

22.        As of 11th April 2011, the Measure replaces HASSASSA in Wales as the legislation by which local authorities have the discretion to charge for non-residential services.  While under the Measure, local authorities retain the discretion to charge should they wish, they will be required to ensure that they charge for non-residential services in accordance with the requirements of the Measure, Regulations and Statutory Guidance.

23.        Section 149 of The Equalities Act 2010 has replaced and incorporated the Race Relations Act 1976, the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 Public Sector Duties.  Section 149 states:

A public authority must in the exercise of its functions give due regard to the need to:

a)  eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under this Act;

b)  advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it;

c)  foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.

24.        A person who is not a public authority but who exercises public functions must, in the exercise of those functions, have due regard to the matters mentioned in subsection (1).

25.        Having due regard to the need to advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it involves having due regard, in particular, to the need to:

a)  remove or minimise disadvantages suffered by persons who share a relevant protected characteristic that are connected to that characteristic;

b)  take steps to meet the needs of persons who share a relevant protected characteristic that are different from the needs of persons who do not share it;

c)  encourage persons who share a relevant protected characteristic to participate in public life or in any other activity in which participation by such persons is disproportionately low.

26.        The steps involved in meeting the needs of disabled persons that are different from the needs of persons who are not disabled include, in particular, steps to take account of disabled persons' disabilities.

27.        Having due regard to the need to foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it involves having due regard, in particular, to the need to:

a)  tackle prejudice, and

b)  promote understanding.

28.        Compliance with the duties in this section may involve treating some persons more favourably than others but this is not to be taken as permitting conduct that would otherwise be prohibited by or under this Act.

29.        The relevant protected characteristics are - age; disability; gender reassignment; pregnancy and maternity; rate; religion or belief; sex, sexual orientation.

Crime and Disorder Implications

30.        There are no crime and disorder implications as a direct result of this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

31.        An Equality Impact Assessment has been undertaken in respect of the revised policy to ensure that all service users are considered equally and there is no adverse effect on any group of people within the community.  No adverse impact has been identified and this policy has been assessed as compliant with anti-discrimination regulations.

Corporate/Service Objectives

32.        Social services meet the following corporate objectives:

·               "to make the Vale a safe, healthy and enjoyable place in which individuals, children and families can live their lives to the full"; and

·               "to manage the Council's workforce, money and assets efficiently and effectively in order to maximise its ability to achieve its service aims".

Policy Framework and Budget

33.        This is a matter for executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

34.        The revised policy has been discussed with representative groups.  There are no implications for individual Wards as a direct result of this report.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

Social Care and Health.

Background Papers

Social Care Charges (Wales) Measure 2010, Regulations and Guidance

 

Contact Officer

Carys Lord, Head of Business Management and Innovation

 

Officers Consulted

Corporate Management Team

 

Responsible Officer:

Philip Evans, Director of Social Services