Failure To Deliver
Two years ago, the Scottish Government agreed to give an additional £6 million per year to Integrated Joint Boards to raise care charging Income Thresholds for 2016-17 onwards. In Feb 2016, the Cabinet Secretary said that “This would benefit more than 13,000 people who will pay a smaller contribution towards the cost of their care and around 900 people who will be taken out of charging altogether.”
In February The Scottish Governement published the Local Government Finance Statistics which looked at the income from social care charges for this year. It showed that instead of 2016-17 income from service users falling by £6 million there was a rise of £1.67 million! An additional £7.67 million of charges had been raised on disabled people.
To see what was happening we examined the amount of money that was allocated to each local authority to increase thresholds and what change this led to in overall income from care charges.
A Manifesto Promise
The SNP was elected in May 2016 to form the next Scottish Government. Their manifesto contained some very clear promises to tackle social care charges.
The SNP commitment was
1. We will also examine the introduction of the extension of free personal and nursing care to those under 65 with a diagnosis of dementia.
2. We will make charges for social care services fairer. We have already invested £6 million to increase the income threshold at which someone becomes liable for charges, and we will continue to take action to make the system fairer still.
3. We will exempt War Pension for veterans and Guaranteed Income Payments under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme for those injured after April 2005, from consideration in assessments for care charges. And, as part of our strategy to support veterans – Renewing Our Commitments – we will revise existing charging guidelines so that war disablement pensions are fully disregarded from social care means tests.
4. We will also consult on the introduction of national guidance for care charges and, as part of this, consider the option of a cap that takes account of the costs of disability related expenditure
Unfortunately there was no mention of any action on this in the Leader's plans for the next year. We do hope that there will be some news soon.
Petition against the Care Tax
Scotland Against the Care Tax (SACT) has launched a national petition calling on the Scottish Government to abolish charging for social care, the ‘Care Tax,’ as frustration with the failure of COSLA to regulate care charges has led to voluntary sector representatives walking out of the partnership.
The petition calls on the Scottish Government to use powers it already has to abolish care charges throughout Scotland. It has been signed by 29 organisations representing disabled people, people with long-term conditions, older people and carers. Sign the petition here
Three years ago COSLA told the Scottish Government it would set up a working group to harmonise charges across Scotland in response to concerns over poor practice. A number disabled people’s representatives have worked with COSLA since 2011 to try and deliver this. Of the 5 third sector organisations represented on the COSLA Working Group 3 have resigned from it this week.
Figures show that over the last three years, care charges have risen on average by 12% with increases in some councils far more than that. Aberdeen City has more than doubled its charging income from disabled people in the last 2 years, while West Dunbartonshire Council has more than trebled their income from the Care Tax.
Nearly every local authority in Scotland charges disabled people for the care they receive. Councils are currently allowed to choose if and what to charge. Support for getting up and going to bed, eating and drinking, and seeing family and friends are all things that can be charged for.
There is no upper limit on what councils can charge for care. This means some disabled people are charged 100% of their own, already severely limited, income for the care they are entitled to.
Jeff Adamson, who is the lead signatory on the petition, worked all his life before being struck by a sudden illness at age 41. Jeff pays 79% of the income from his occupational pension on the care he receives from the local authority.
Jeff said: “I pay the Care Tax in Midlothian. I have a private pension from a previous job and the Care Tax seems to swallow it up. This year (2014) my payment has just gone up to £661 a month! Another £760 a year!”
Anyone can become disabled. I know. It happened to me. My name is Jeff. When I was 41, I was hit by a sudden illness. Now I am paralysed and rely on support for many of my needs.
In 2013 I pay 70% Care Tax
- £600 a month.