Social care ‘inaccuracies’

THERE were inaccuracies in the recent report on West Sussex County Council’s Fairer Charging policy for adult social care, which I would like to correct.

Fairer charging is the national framework for local authorities to appropriately and lawfully charge individuals for community care.

A decision was taken in October 2009 to increase the charge in West Sussex to come into line with most other councils, to an assessment of 100 per cent of an individual’s disposable income (after allowing for a basic living allowance, property related household expenses and disability related expenses).

Fairer Charging is not a tax on those who use our services, it is a contribution from them towards the services they receive.

The system is fully transparent and means-tested and no one is asked to pay more than they can afford.

Currently 63 per cent of recipients make no contribution towards the cost of their support packages, two per cent meet the full cost and the rest make some contribution.

The decision followed consultation with customers, carers and relatives, and voluntary and independent organisations.

Those service users who were with us last April were informed in a letter that the charges would be further increased from April 2011, and all new customers received a booklet ‘Paying for non-residential care’ which also stated the increase.

Many of our neighbouring authorities have also increased their charges.

This increase has been implemented over two years and at the Adults’ Services’ Select Committee on March 1, 2011, a report was discussed in public giving feedback of the effect of the first year’s increase on service users.

One of the ways we ensured the impact was not too great was by capping the increase to those most greatly affected.

Residents are able to request a full reassessment of their charge if they believe that their financial circumstances have altered.

This is one of many areas that has been looked at by the council to make financial savings and increase income.

PETER CATCHPOLE

(Con, Holbrook) West Sussex County Council cabinet member for adults’ services

County Hall, Chichester