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New fairer charging policy for adult social care

Proposals to charge carers for support services have been scrapped as a result of a consultation into fairer charging for adult social care services.

From December  this year, adults who pay towards the cost of their adult social care services will pay revised prices that cover the cost of the service as subsidies will disappear*.  For some this means price increases, but for others who have been financially assessed as not having to make any contribution to their care needs, there will be no changes.  Proposals to charge carers for the services they receive have been shelved.

Like other councils across the country, earlier this year, Herefordshire Council reviewed how much people should pay towards the cost of their non-residential adult social care services.  These services include home care, day care, supported employment, transport, meals in a day centre, meals on wheels and carers’ services, such a short breaks and sitting services.  The council proposed that any charges made needed to cover the cost of the service provided and consulted service users and care organisations on the best and fairest way possible to do this.

There was a good response to the consultation - more than a quarter of people who use services completed and returned a questionnaire.  In addition, more than 300 people were involved in meetings across the county to discuss the proposals and look at how they might affect them. Included in the consultation were proposals to charge carers the full cost of the services they receive.

Councillor Patricia Morgan, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “We have talked at length with carers and Herefordshire Carers Support and listened to their concerns.  As a result we are not introducing charges for the services carers receive.

“Herefordshire, like other counties, relies heavily on carers to support vulnerable people of all ages.  Without these carers, many of our most vulnerable people wouldn’t be able to live independent good quality lives.  Although resources are incredibly tight, we need to support our carers wherever we can and as a result, we will not be charging them for the services they receive.

“We have revised our charging structure for community based services to make it as fair as we possibly can and to ensure that those who can’t afford to pay can continue to receive the services they need.

“This means most services will be charged based on the actual cost of service or the maximum amount people can afford, if lower. To make it fairer to those living in rural areas we have decided to spread the cost of home care across the county by applying an average charge. This is because this service is more costly to deliver in a rural area.”

Charges will be phased in from December 2012 and people receiving services will be contacted about how the changes will affect them over the coming weeks.