Changes to the way Northamptonshire County Council assesses adult social care customers when determining the level of contribution they must make have been agreed at a cabinet meeting today (11th March).
The council is set to update the current financial assessment policy for community based adult social care customers, and to also revise the existing transport policy.
Financial assessment policy
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.
The new policy, known as the Fair Contributions policy, will 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.
The Fair Contributions policy will ensure that when financially assessing people, all personal circumstances and disability-related expenses are taken into account so that the outcome will fully reflect the individual’s ability to contribute towards the cost of their care.
The new policy will also put greater emphasis on the active role that finance officers will take in ensuring people receive all the welfare benefits they are entitled to.
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.
The new transport policy will remove the flat-rate fee and instead make transport part of the new Fair 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: “A review of our charging policies is long overdue; we are one of the last authorities to still use banded charging plus we need to make sure we are ready for the Care Bill.
“We have been consulting on these plans since December and we have used this feedback to help us make a final decision on the way forward.
“The new Fair Contribution policy and new transport policy will bring our assessment process up to date and ensure we have a fair and equitable system in place for everyone.”
The new policies will be introduced from 1st April to put in place 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.
From 1st April all new customers will be assessed using the new policies and a rolling programme of reassessments using the new policies will begin for existing customers.
It is expected that all 4,800 customers will have been reassessed by March 2015.