Guidance on responding to the consultation on social care charging

You have until 7 September 2020 to respond to Tower Hamlets Council’s consultation on increasing charges for social care users. Real have produced the following guidance notes to supplement the information provided by Tower Hamlets Council. 

The Council introduced charging for social care in 2017. This means that if you receive support from a carer with things like personal care, washing, cooking and cleaning, you may have to pay for some or all of it. 

The Council work out how much you pay towards your care by assessing how much money you have. How much you pay depends on many things, including: 

  • Income (how much money you have coming in), including benefits 
  • Savings 
  • Rent 
  • Childcare costs 

However much you are asked to contribute towards your care, the Council must leave you with a certain amount of money to live on each week. This is known as the Minimum Income Guarantee. 

It is discretionary whether a council charges for social care. If they do choose to charge, much of how the charge is calculated is set in law by the Government and must be followed. However, some things are their choice. 

This year, the Council want to make some changes to how social care charges are calculated. These changes only affect people who receive support in their own home, not people in care homes. The objective is to raise more money for Tower Hamlets Council because they are not getting the revenue they expected from the current charging regime. 

Real disagrees with the concept of charging for social care at all. We think it is a tax on an essential service that disabled people have no choice in using. We know that NHS services are free at the point of delivery and think that social care charges should be as well. We also know that councils have the opportunity to charge for social care services if they want to. We lobbied against the introduction of charges in 2017 but we were not successful. We note that the council have only given three options to choose from, all of which will increase the charges for some people. 

The Council are proposing three options which will increase the charges paid by some disabled and older people. The changes will affect different people differently but each one will affect the utilities allowance, the maximum you may pay towards care and informal carer respite. Each of these are explained below. The three options are different combinations of: 

Standard Utilities Allowance 

 

This is money off a social care bill each week to help with utilities costs (electricity, gas, water, etc.) 

At the moment, it is set at £15. This means everyone’s social care bill is £15 cheaper each week. 

The Council do not have to give money off for this, and it is not intended to cover all utility costs. 

 

Maximum Care Charge 

 

This is the maximum amount the Council chooses to charge any person for social care. 

At the moment, it is set at £250 per week.  

It is important to remember that the maximum charge does not mean you will necessarily be charged this amount. Whether someone pays the maximum amount depends on the outcome of their financial assessment and the cost of their care. 

 

Charge for respite and carer relief 

 

This is a charge of when people have respite care or other measures in their care package that are to help an “informal” carer, such as a family member. 

 

 

The consultation options 

The council has proposed three options and have asked people to vote for which they would prefer. Every option has the removal of charges for carer respite in addition to what is written below. 

Option 1 

  • Increase the maximum care charge from £250 per week to £1,000 per week. 
  • Remove the £15 ‘standard utilities allowance’. 

This means if you receive care that costs more than £250 per week and your financial assessment states you are eligible to contribute more than £250, youcharge will rise up to £1,000. How much depends on your care package and finances. The Council estimate this will affect 28 people. 

The removal of the standard utilities allowance will increase your contribution to care costs by up to £15 if doing so does not leave you with less than your Minimum Income Guarantee. The Council estimate this will affect 1304 people. 

The Council estimate this option will save £400,000 per year. 

Option 2 

  • Increase the maximum amount people can be asked to pay towards their care from £250 per week to £1,000 per week. 
  • Reduce the ‘standard utilities allowance’ from £15 to £5. 

This means if you receive care that costs more than £250 per week and your financial assessment states you are eligible to contribute more than £250, your charge will rise up to £1,000. How much depends on your care package and finances. The Council estimate this will affect 28 people. 

The removal of the standard utilities allowance will increase your contribution to care costs by up to £10 if doing so does not leave you with less than your Minimum Income Guarantee. The Council estimate this will affect 1239 people. 

The Council estimate this option will save £263,000 per year. 

Option 3 

  • Increase the maximum amount people can be asked to contribute towards their care from £250 per week to £300 per week. 
  • Remove the £15 ‘standard utilities allowance’ 

This means if you receive care that costs more than £250 per week and your financial assessment states you are eligible to contribute more than £250, your charge will rise up to £300. How much depends on your care package and finances. The Council estimate this will affect 28 people. 

The removal of the standard utilities allowance will increase your contribution to care costs by up to £15 if doing so does not leave you with less than your Minimum Income Guarantee. The Council estimate this will affect 1304 people. 

The Council estimate this option will save £274,000 per year. 

Things to consider 

We cannot tell you which option to vote for. What you choose depends on your circumstances and what you think is important. But before voting, it may help to consider the following: 

Care needs change over time. The number of hours care and support you receive may change to fit your needs. 

Charges for social care will change over time. This may be due to a change in your circumstances, a change the Council or Government make, or economic changes like inflation.  

It may also help to ask yourself the following questions: 

  • What is the cost of my care package? 
  • How much am I contributing now? 
  • Which option would affect me most? 
  • Will my care needs change soon? 
  • Will my finances change soon? 
  • Is my care package due to change? Do I need more or less support? 
  • Which option would affect most other people? 

For more details and how to respond

You need to follow the following link to the Tower Hamlets council website to get more information, and for details on how to respond. People who received direct payments should also have received a letter. But anyone can respond to give their views.

Additional support with this consultation 

If you would like further information or support with this consultation, you can contact Real on 020 7001 2175 or local-link@real.org.ukSomeone will take your details and call you back as soon as possible. 

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