14 June 2010

Northamptonshire County Council is encouraging people to take part in a consultation looking at the future of charging for social care services.

In November 2009, the county council undertook an initial consultation exercise to look at the existing charging policy for non-residential care services.

After reviewing consultation results and listening to feedback, a decision was made in February this year to extend the consultation to ask for additional feedback from customers and the wider public.

At the same time, a cabinet decision was also made to set a target of raising an additional £600,000 a year through charging for non-residential care services. This money would be used to fund social care services to ensure the council can provide good quality services to everyone who is eligible to ensure they receive the support and care they need.

The consultation being launched this week looks at two key areas:

  • Charging for non-residential community-based services – these are services customers are eligible to receive as part of a support package. This is where the additional £600,000 income must be found.
  • Charging for non-eligible services such as some transport or meals on wheels. In many cases these services are currently offered for free but are not part of a package identified to meet someone’s eligible need.

Councillor Robin Brown, cabinet member for health and adult social services said: “Unlike health services, adult social care services are not free. The money raised through charging for these services is ploughed back into social care services to ensure people receive the care and support they need. However, currently over 120 other local authorities charge more than we do in Northamptonshire

“We are looking at our charging system to explore how we can meet the combined challenges of a rapidly growing population, an ageing population and an increased life expectancy for younger disabled adults, all of which put extra pressure on us being able to fund good quality social care services for county people.

“Without raising more money through charging for non-residential social care services, it is likely that we would have to reduce services being offered.

“We recognise that any decision regarding charging for non-residential social care services affects vulnerable people in the county so we are carrying out this extended consultation to ensure that everyone gets the chance to have their say and influence any proposals that are developed at the end of this process.

“The consultation also emphasises the importance of ensuring any decisions made are the most fair and most equitable possible for the citizens of the county, especially the most vulnerable. We take consultation very seriously and feedback we have received through past consultations, such as into the future of council-owned care homes last year, has had a real impact on the final proposals and decisions put forward, so it’s really important that everyone uses this opportunity to take part.”

The consultation begins today (14th June) and ends on Friday 6th August.

The consultation document is being sent to 4,500 customers who have had a financial assessment for non-residential services and a further 2,000 customers who have received transport in the last three months, meals on wheels customers or Extra Care service users.

Consultation papers will also be available in all county council day services and at libraries across the county. It will also be available in the consultation section on the county council’s website http://www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/en/councilservices/asc/havesay/Pages/ChargingSurvey.aspx

Consultation events have also been organised to allow people to hear more about the proposals and give their feedback; details can be found on the same website link above.

People who need more information about the consultation can telephone 01604 237977 or email hasspublicengagement@northamptonshire.gov.uk

The results of the consultation will form the basis of a cabinet report in the Autumn.

Additional information:

The consultation only affects non-residential care services such as adult social care services to help people to live at home, such as home care, day care and personal assistance. They do not include residential care for example, care homes and respite care in care homes.

Full details about the consultation including the questionnaire and guidance around how the charging could affect people is on the county council's website: http://www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/en/councilservices/asc/havesay/Pages/ChargingSurvey.aspx