Scotland Against the Care Tax carried out a Freedom of Information request in December 2018 with all Scottish Local Authorities to try and find out how ready they are for the extension of Free Personal Care.  However the results add to our concern as it seems many of the Scottish Government’s closest advisers don’t have information to support such modelling or their own projections.

In our FOI we asked how many clients received personal care and/or other forms of care.   Of the 7 local authorities who took part in the Scottish Government’s Implement Advisory Group and presumably carried out the local modelling that the Scottish Government relied on we received the following responses:

Scotland Against the Care Tax are disappointed that the Scottish Government has failed to meet the assurances made by the Cabinet Secretary on the 10th of January to the Petitions Committee. 

Jeane Freeman: That is, partly, the critical bit; there are numbers and then there are assumptions and modelling. We will provide the committee with what we used.[1]

Instead of providing any of the actual data that the Scottish Government used to support this policy development they have provided only a list of 6 data sources that they used. 

  • Scottish Government data;
  • a survey of local authorities undertaken as part of a published feasibility study;
  • local modellling by members of the IAG;
  • projections based on the main supported people client groups;
  • Local Government Financial returns; and
  • comparison with the impact of introducing free personal care for older people.

 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

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.

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