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Are You Being Served?

February 14, 2015

I’ve probably written about this before. I have written about this before. Today, my attention turns again to the social care “Fairer charging policy”.

This morning, I got a letter from the council notifying me that Steven’s contribution to his care package is overdue. I’ve been waiting for an up to date invoice but that’s another matter. As usual, the language was quite threatening. Completely unnecessary for a first reminder. But I guess it’s quite common now for State letters to adopt the tone and language of the debt recovery company. Even when it’s just a first notification letter.

Steven is levied a weekly charge for “non residential care services”. I’m not sure what that phrase means, so I looked it up on the council’s website. There is a 48 paragraph booklet on the “Fairer Charging Policy” but one paragraph that is missing is the one that tells you what exactly you are being charged for. Lots of warnings about what will happen if you don’t pay. Lots of instructions on how to pay. But nothing on what the charge actually covers.

I tried to work out what “services” the council actually provides now that Steven receives a personal budget. They pay the budget onto the prepaid card once a month. They micro manage to a ridiculous degree how I use the card. They audit the account from time to time. They conduct a fairer access to care services assessment once a year. That’s it. Steven doesn’t use one of the few remaining day centres. He doesn’t got to their respite home. We don’t ask for the input of the positive behaviour team, the learning disability psychologist, the speech therapist or the occupational therapist. There are no other services.

So, is providing the personal budget a service?  Is money a service? Since we’ve had the personal budget, my workload has shot up. You could argue I am providing them with a service. They don’t have to deal with support agencies anymore. There is no commissioning. They don’t have to do contracts or payrolls. I do all that now. that they chose to carry out such microscopic surveillance is their choice – I didn’t ask for that service (if that’s what it is).

Surely, a personal budget is a sum of money paid to fulfil a statutory duty to meet an assessed need. Is there any other payment made by the State that requires the recipient to pay for receiving that payment?

Imagine I hire a decorator to paint my bedroom. I pay him for the Paint and equipment he will need. But then he introduces “personalisation decorating” and hands over the paint brushes and paint to me and tells me to get on with it. Will he still be able to charge me for his service?

There is no point in challenging this. Even if someone accepted that the fairer charging policy for a non service isn’t right, it would only get rebadged as something else and charges would be reintroduced. And as a few of us were discussing on Twitter earlier, there is always a price to pay for challenging the king’s new clothes.


From → Social Care

  1. Just as long as ALL Stephen’s disability-related expenses have been taken account of in the financial assessment – like the costs of anyone accompanying him on leisure, educational, work activities and the costs of people supporting him on holidays as well as his living expenses and any other extra costs due to disability – like equipment, tough wear and tear etc….. A fair assessment….

  2. Far as I understand it – which is not very far, to put it mildly – you are not being charged for a “service”, but LAs have discretion to decide how much an individual should contribute to the cost of their care. I don’t think the way this is calculated is any more rational than the way the Personal Budget sum is arrived at. It is a very neat trick to reduce the costs and increase the harrassment, but when DPs work smoothly, almost worth the hassle!

    “Fairer charging” along with Fair Access and CRAG and all the rest of the gobbledygook have now been cancelled out by the Care Act. How long it will take before anybody figures out how THAT is supposed to work I have no idea.

  3. Oh, and I read the other day that the Government has provided £200 million for the costs of figuring out the Care Act. No extra money for actual care.

    • Pauline Thomas permalink

      Jobs for he boys Lizzie, jobs for the boys.

      In the bowels of my LA is a Little Britain type computer that keeps saying no.

      Every so often for the last three years I get sent a letter from their finance department saying I owe them money for domiciliary care which was carried out in 2011. First of all my son has never ever received care in our home All his personal care has always been provided by me and my husband. Secondly my son left our council adult services in 2010. Never to return. I ring them up. I explain. The ladies are always apologetic and nice. Leave it with us they say. The letters stop. I relax and months later they start again. Oh dear I got another one last week saying I owe for a week in December 2014. Hang on, my son left the services in 2010?

  4. Fairer charging Fair Access and CRAG are all current so if you seek legal challenge now it will stand up in court .A person with LD should have minimal or 0 charges at the moment including holidays and transport if the DRE has been applied correctly . The Government’s plan is that anyone who has assessed eligible needs before the age of 25 will get a zero cap. So in effect they will not have to pay for their care and support needs. Thats why they are as keen as mustard to fool us into thinking the charge is lawful when in effect its a voluntary contribution setting the scene to ring fence monies when the new act comes in. There is no free care for people with a learning disability (unless they can establish eligible needs before the age of 25).

    See link below to the consultation paper which was published by the Government last week.

    • The “free” care – or zero cap – isn’t retrospective. I can’t remember the exact cut of date, but it only applies to people who are NOT YET 25, not all of those who have been disabled from birth. The “cap” for them is still £72,000. I am not a lawyer, just someone who has been following this Act with interest – I thought that CRAG and Fairer Charging become defunct as soon as this Act was signed, but maybe there is a kind of grey area that allows them to still apply until April? It is a HUGE piece of legislation which has some good bits – but given that LAs pay scant attention to the law anyway I imagine it will be a very long time before it makes much difference.

  5. Seems it’s got bugger-all to do with the services that Steven receives (or not) and everything to do with how much cash in bank is labelled with his name. Anything he has above a certain amount in income or savings gets swiped by the council as a ‘contribution’ towards his personal budget.

    See ‘ Paying contributions
    towards your care and support whilst living in your own home’.

    It doesn’t matter who’s providing the services – the council is purely interested in how much of them they can get away with not paying for.

  6. ParentCarer permalink

    I agree with Kara the local authority give the money with one hand and take it back with the other. That is why so many people carry on till they cannot cope as everything is charged for unless your income/asserts are beloŵ a certain level

  7. meg permalink

    It is a dreadful policy. I work primarily in the community with LD adults who live on their own, in their own home. Some sheltered, some not. Their understanding of fairer charges is mainly that they are paying myself or my colleagues for what we do. Of course it generally isn’t a huge amount, somewhere between 12 and 30 quid a week. I have not been able to fathom how these amounts are calculated as the individual amounts don’t seem to tally with either income or hours of support provided, nor any relation to their use of local services such as day centres, 2 of which they have lost in the last 2 years.
    I do know this system causes a lot of confusion, a fair bit of anger which, of course myself and colleagues are the prime targets for and mainly, for me at least, the question why. Why do they have to pay, what is the money used for, what is fairer about it? I have no real answers because in 7 years no one from LD services or the council has been able to give me any.
    My own opinion is that it creates paperwork, which creates jobs and that is the justification. Let’s use the service user (I hate that term but must use it every day) to generate money. It is yet another case of the service being built around the providers.

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