County council says new scale of adult social care charges will net £3.2m over two years - but they’ve listened and dropped one proposed increase

Cllr Anna Bailey, chairwoman of the adults committee said: "Due to the significant budget pressures

Cllr Anna Bailey, chairwoman of the adults committee said: "Due to the significant budget pressures and the temporary nature of government funding for adult social care means we now have to make difficult decisions' Picture; CCC - Credit: Archant

Four of the five proposals to increase costs for those needing adult social care in Cambridgeshire have been agreed.

It is a move that could boost county council income by £3.4m over the next two years.

Councillors were told at the adults committee on January 16 that this is an estimated calculation pending the outcome of financial assessments, the period over which the changes are implemented and "personalised levels of disability related expenditure".

A public consultation resulted in the council withdrawing proposed increases for nearly 100 people who pay for short term respite care and were facing rises of up to £140 a week.

A report to the adults committee says that "significant" concerns were raised about the size of the care charge increase and the affect it would have on people's finances.

"Concerns were also raised about the potential that people might be put off using respite services," says the report. "This could adversely impact on the health and wellbeing of the service user and place additional strain on family carers; possibly leading to carer breakdown implementation."

However other charges will be going ahead subject to the committee's agreement including upping the contribution from those protected by the minimum income guarantee (MIG) that could now be lowered which in turn would increase contributions from users.

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The new figure - in line with Department of Health and Social Care rules- was thought to have involved up to 1,150 clients who could expect to pay up to £5.50 a week extra.

The council says more detailed analysis has identified that up to 2,100 people could be affected by the extra weekly charge.

"If all the proposals were to be fully adopted and implemented, some service users could experience maximum weekly increases in their standard care contribution of up to £34.45," say council officials.

"These individuals will have higher incomes that will not previously have been taken into account in the financial assessment."

Also new is a flat-rate weekly charge for the council provided appointee service for those with capital in excess of £2,000 of £10 for residential clients and £12.50 for clients living in the community.

The council says thousands of people in Cambridgeshire arrange and pay for their care and support with no involvement from the council - but of those in receipt of council arranged care services, over 60 per cent contribute from their own finances towards the cost of their care.

"This contributes significantly to the council's adult social care budget and helps the council to meet its statutory care obligations within very tight financial margins," says the report.

"It also enables the council to invest in prevention and early help services to support people to live in the community and avoid or delay the need for a more expensive care package.

"As an organisation that has to deliver statutory adult social care responsibilities with increasing pressure on budgets, charging people for chargeable elements of their care enables the council to prioritise services to protect resources for those who most need them.

"Where charging has been introduced by other local authorities' reports suggest they have been able to protect those key services without impacting significantly on those who have been charged."

The council says each person affected will receive an individual financial assessment that looks at their finances.

The council will also ensure "the care charge they are assessed to pay is individually affordable, and that any benefits which the person is entitled to are claimed and received.

"People will always be left with at least the minimum protected income figure set by the Government after their care charges have been paid and will also have an allowance on top of this for any disability-related costs."

During a consultation the council held six face to face public events across the county attended by over 60 people, issued 3,486 consultation letters and surveys to service users and a total of 517 online and paper surveys were completed - with 649 comments by individuals/organisations. The council wants to maintain the minimum income guarantee in line with inflation and will ask the Government to do so.

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