08 November 2013

Proposals to update the current financial assessment policy for adult social care customers, and to also revise the existing transport policy, are set to be discussed at Northamptonshire County Council’s cabinet meeting next week (12th November).

It is proposed to update the policies to introduce a fairer approach to the way people are assessed to identify the amount of money they are required to contribute towards their social care costs, including the cost of transport services.

If the report is agreed by cabinet members, a consultation will be launched to gather feedback from current customers and the wider public about the proposals, with a view to making a final decision about the new policies in February 2014.

Financial assessment model

The current financial assessment model for adult social care offers banded charging to some customers and a full financial assessment to others.

This approach means that when deciding the level of contribution they must make to their care costs, some people have all of their sources of income taken into account, while others only have their benefits taken into account.

It is therefore proposed to remove the current banded charging system, so that all customers receive a full financial assessment instead.

This means that all customers, both existing and new, will be assessed in the same way.

Transport policy

The current transport policy was last revised in 2010 and set the amount a person has to contribute for their transport at £4 per day, regardless of the number of journeys or the cost of the transport package.

This flat-rate policy does not take into consideration factors including the individual’s ability to use other transport such as free bus passes or friends and family, or whether they have access to transport-related funding, for example, through their disability benefit.

As a result, people who have very different costs associated with their transport provision and very different financial circumstances are all paying the same flat-rate amount.

Therefore, the cabinet paper proposes to remove the flat-rate fee and instead make transport part of the new fairer contributions policy, making it subject to the same assessment process as other social care costs.

Cabinet member for adult social care Councillor Suresh Patel said: “The council last reviewed charging three years ago and so it’s important to review again to make sure that we have a fair and equitable system in place for everyone.

“We are one of the last authorities to still use banded charging, and so it’s definitely time to look at our policies and bring them up to date so that everyone is assessed in the same way when deciding social care and transport contributions.

“We are planning to consult on these proposals so that we can get people’s views on this new approach and will be using this feedback to help make a final decision on the new policy early next year.”

What happens next?

If the cabinet paper is agreed, a 10-week public consultation on these proposals will begin on 22nd November.