Our Comment for Feasibility Study Into the Extension of Free Personal Care
Scotland Against the Care Tax is a nationwide campaign to eradicate the injustice and institutionalised extortion of community care charging.
We believe this insidious ‘Care Tax’ is a burden placed on disabled people where they have to pay for the social care support they require to exercise their duties and responsibilities as full and equal members of society.
Having already paid local and national taxes for the upkeep of public services, this double-taxation drives many into poverty and denies them their human rights.
The answers to the survey questionnaire below, indicate the lack of exactitudes, within the present law and practice; highlighting that community care charging should be completely abolished. However, and only as a stopgap, we acknowledge this interim measure of equating the age differential, for free personal care, will serve to overcome one of the system’s many inequities and exploitative subjugations.
You can read our comments to the Scottish Government on this proposal by clicking below
Has the First Step Failed?
Earlier this year we reported that the SNP Government was investing additional funds in making Social Care Charges fairer. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to have worked.
Earlier this year as part of the budget settlement with local councils, the Scottish Government included £6 million as to increase income thresholds so disabled people would have to pay less for social care charges. This money was included in the additional £250 million given to Health and Social Care Partnerships to improve social care. And each council’s share of this was to be about £187,500 per year. Each disabled person affected could have been expected to be about £10 a week better off. This was to be a step to meeting the demands of campaigners such as the Frank’s Law campaign who argue that making people under 65 pay care charges is unfair.
However local councils seem to have taken the money and done the opposite.
1. Highland Health and Social Care Partnership have reduced the income threshold that people under 65 need to have before they start paying care charges from £177 to £123 at their meeting on the 3rd of March 2016. This will mean that disabled people who need social care will have to pay up to £22 a week more than they currently do.
2. Perth and Kinross have increased the amount of money they take from older people by removing “transitional protection” granted last year and now asking them to pay as much of the full cost of their social care as they can manage. They expect to raise an additional £200,000 from people who are living on as little as £8,500 per year.
3. Dundee Council has still to decide on what to do about the income thresholds but has in the meantime increased the cost of most of its social care services.
4. Aberdeenshire Council has decided to treble the amount it takes from people getting social care. Instead of asking people to pay just one third of the cost of their support, it is now asking them to pay for it all. This will cost disabled and older people in the area with as little as £16,000 in the bank hundreds of thousands of pounds each year.
A first step
Last week, Shona Robison, the Health Secretary made an announcement of £6 million for Scottish councils as long as it was used to reduce social care charges. We understand that this money has been proposed as an anti poverty measure which will see the Income Thresholds raised in a number of councils. This is the level of basic income that people have to have before they start paying charges. The Health Secretary has suggested that 900 people will stop paying all care charges and 13,000 will pay less. A quick sum tells us that each person will be about £8.30 a week better off.
The £6 million is part of the additional £250 million that is being given to health boards to improve social care. Will it make a lot of difference? £6 million is roughly 15% of the total that councils raise in care charges so many people will still have to pay and we have already seen proposals in this year's council budgets to raise charges even more. We do agree this is a helpful first step but it would be helpful to know where it was a first step to.
However this does indicate the political pressure that has been building up on this issue thanks to the very strong Dundee and Angus based campaign for Frank's Law and the work of Scotland Against the Care Tax. This pressure is not going away so lets see what else develops when we see the parties' election manifestos in April. Read the Courier article here.
However we believe the Courier article is wrong to say that those that that pay for community alarms or meals with pay less. These are non means tested items that everyone who gets them has to pay for and are not affected by raising the charges threshold.
This article was first published on www.ldascotland.org
End the Care Tax - Consultation Closed
On October 7th 2015 Siobhan McMahon MSP launched a consultation on the abolition of non-residential social care charges at the Scottish Parliament. The consultation closed on Friday 30th January 2016.
You can read some of the responses made by members of Scotland Against the Care Tax by clicking on the links below.
Our latest comment to the Petitions Committee
We would like to thank the committee for the opportunity to comment on the 6 responses received to our petition on care charges. Our approach through all of our work is to emphasise that getting the right support to live good lives in the community is about fulfilling the human rights of disabled and older people. Charging for social care forces people in Scotland to trade off the right to have nutritious food or to be warm and secure in their own home with help to get out of bed in the morning. Scots law recognises that people should be given the support they need (Robertson 2002) but social care charging threatens this vital response.
We were disappointed that only the response from Argyll & Bute seemed to wrestle with this truly important matter. Both COSLA and the Scottish Government focus very heavily on the Financial Assessment Templates as if human rights only apply to poor people. Even the EHRC seemed too concerned with the technical details of policy to realise that there is a real challenge that affects real people.
Mr Sneddon from Argyll & Bute recognises that a question mark must be placed over whether it is “appropriate to charge individuals for services which are organised or delivered based on assessed needs.” In this we would agree with him.