Call For Help
The Scottish Government introduced its new policy of Extending Free Personal Care to the under 65s (aka Frank’s Law) on April 1st. Thousands of people stand to benefit from this and we have produced a guide to what the policy means and what disabled people can expect from it.
Scotland Against the Care Tax has campaigned against care charges for ten years and welcomes this new policy as a major improvement in the lives of many disabled people.
But we believe that many will be disappointed in this new policy as they find out either that they don’t qualify at all or that even though their Personal Care is free that they are charged enough for the balance of their care that they are no better off.
Jeff Adamson, Chair of SACT has already found himself in this position. He receives 80 hours of care a week and has been told that 64 hours of this are Personal Care and are delivered without charge from April 1st. However Jeff is still charged £170 per week for his care charges for the 16 hour balance, exactly the same as he was charged prior to April 1st.
We have some stories about people ending their care packages as they find they are not covered by this policy and have instead been hit by other local authority charging increases.
We are collecting evidence over the next couple of months to help us report to the Scottish Government about what the experiences of disabled people are with this new policy. We are hoping to collect between 40 & 50 cases from all parts of Scotland.
We would be grateful if you could share any anecdotes or case studies of the effect this policy of extending Free Personal Care has had. (All stories should be suitably anonymised unless the person would like to make a particular point).
New Guide to Free Personal Care published
Disabled people want to know what to expect from this new policy and how it will affect them. It is possible that many people will disagree with the local council’s decision on what percentage of their care is ‘Personal Care’ and want to challenge this. But the failure of guidance holds them back from being able to make plans.
Jeff Adamson, Chair of Scotland Against the Care Tax, said, “We are so disappointed with this. Once again, we have a policy for councils co-produced by the Scottish Government and COSLA with no input from disabled people who, it would seem, are but an afterthought. Disabled people come at the end of the line. We have been forced to provide our own guide to this new policy to make up for government deficiencies.”
The SACT guide is available on line and covers the introduction of the policy and what people can expect. It also explains where the “grey areas” are in the application of the policy and how disabled people can challenge local councils if they are not happy with how the new policy is applied to them.
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.
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