Scottish Government claim they want Equal Treatment but really???
The Scottish Government claim that this policy is about treating people over 65 and under 65 equally. In her response to the Petitions Committee, the Cabinet Secretary repeated “Our aim in extending free personal care was to move to a consistent approach for under and over 65s rather than maintaining a separate approach for different age groups.”
If that was really true, then why has the Scottish Government taken no action over the blatant age discrimination in COSLA’s 2018-19 charging guidance that sees single people over 65 not pay charges until their income is over £204 per week while single people under 65 pay charge when their income is over £134 per week? This can mean that younger disabled adults pay as much as £70 per week more in charges for exactly the same service.
The difference this makes can be seen in one of the poorest and most rural areas in Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway. Figures published only two weeks ago show the local Health and Social Care Partnership have increased their income from social care charges by 60% in a single year (2017-18), taking an additional £1 million from younger disabled adults under 60 differently, by simply cutting their income disregards down to this lower figure of £134 per week.
If the Scottish Government was serious about treating people over 65 and under 65 equally then they would prioritise the equalisation of the income disregard level.
We wonder when the Scottish Government plan to make COSLA alter its guidance to treat people over 65 and under 65 equally.
Freedom of Information Request Results
Our recent Freedom of Information request asked was how many people between 18 – 64 were receiving home care of any sort. 19 councils (representing 60% of the Scottish population) replied with a total of 5,802 clients receiving Personal Care. This indicates that for all of Scotland about 9,800 people will be receiving Personal Care. This is similar to the figures used by the Scottish Government in their response to the Petition. We also identified another 4,900 people in these 19 council areas who receive only non Personal Care. This would multiply up to 8,000 for all of Scotland.
Who Will Benefit
Multiplying up these numbers reported by the 19 councils, we find that for all of Scotland
- 5,300 (30%) receive only Personal Care and will be big winners from this policy.
- 8,100 (45%) receive only Non Personal Care and will see no change from this policy.
- 4,400 (25%) receive both Personal Care and Non Personal Care and some of whom who get 4 hours or less of Personal Care might gain from this policy.
Millionaires Benefit More Than Ordinary Disabled People
At the heart of the Scottish Government's problem is a failure to understand the Home Care Contribution scheme in Scotland. It consists of two primary elements.
First is the SERVICE COST. Councils work out what the cost of the service provided is and this becomes the Service Cost. For example, a weekly service of 80 hours of social care in Midlothian at a local rate of £11.30 per hour would have a service cost of £904 per week.
Second is the CHARGE. Councils carry out a financial assessment to see how much someone can afford to pay according to a set of allowances. If the amount you can pay is less than the SERVICE COST, you must pay the full CHARGE you can afford. You are never asked to pay more than the full SERVICE COST.
Someone such as Ordinary Person X on a pension and disability benefits is assessed as being able to pay a CHARGE of £165 per week. Someone with savings of over a million pounds, well above the £27,000 savings line with the same level of support would be expected to pay a CHARGE of the full SERVICE COST of £904 per week.
Advisors unable to advise
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:
Disappointed in Response
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.
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.
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