The Committee considered a report of the Director of Adults and Communities, the purpose of which was to brief the Committee on a number of proposed changes to the Council’s Charging for Social Care and Support Policy to be introduced from 11 April 2022 and invite comment on the revised Policy prior to approval for implementation being sought from the Cabinet at its meeting on 29 March 2022. A copy of the report marked ‘Agenda Item 10’, is filed with these minutes.
Arising from discussion, the following points were made:
(i) The Director reported that a circular issued to all local authorities after the Committee report had been published confirmed the Government’s intention to raise the statutory minimum amounts for the Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG) and Personal Expenses Allowances (PEA) for 2022-23 by 3.01%. This meant that the PEA amount would rise from £24.90 to £25.65. The calculation of the MIG depended on a range of factors (such as age and disability) so it was not possible to provide an exact amount in the same way.
(ii) A member raised concern that people planning for their future with good intentions could be negatively affected by the rules around deprivation of capital and clarification on the assessment process was sought. The Director confirmed that these rules would only apply if, at the time a person gave away an asset, they had a reasonable expectation of the need for care or support and the need to contribute towards the cost of that care or support.
(iii) Members noted that there was no time limit (like with inheritance tax) which would make the giving away of an asset such as property, exempt from being considered as part of an application for care or support services. Regarding advice available for those looking to make decisions about their future, Members were advised to signpost people to the Department which could provide guidance based on an individual’s circumstances. Members noted that a care funding booklet was also available setting out each provision. It was emphasised that such advice could only be given based on a person’s circumstances at the time the enquiry was made. Members also noted that if a number of asset-related actions had been taken over a period of time (for example, if a person had given away £10K four times in one year), the circumstances around each would be individually considered as part of the assessment process.
(iv) Predominantly there were two kinds of financial assessments used to determine how much a person would be charged for their care. These were based on whether the care/support would be provided in the person’s own home/community or in a residential setting. The outcome of the financial assessment largely depended on the type of care to be provided. Once this had been confirmed through a care assessment the financial assessment would then be completed. The process for those requiring care in a residential setting would usually be more complex, for example taking account of whether the placement would be temporary or permanent and whether they were a property owner.
(v) Members were assured that the complexities of the process did not mean that care would be delayed; responding to people’s care needs would always be the priority. Unless the person had made a choice to wait, a care package could begin, and charges could be back dated once the outcome of the financial assessment had been confirmed. This may happen if, for example, a person needed additional time to collect information to inform their assessment.
(vi) Regarding the information available to the public about charges for care, the Director confirmed that there was an online financial assessment tool on the Council’s website which offered a provisional result based on the information provided by the person completing the form. The Department would then evaluate the details of those identified as being eligible for care and support services and a notification letter would be issued. Members noted that the Department was currently considering ways to improve the tool for use and publication more widely.
(a) That the report and revised Charging for Social Care and Support Policy set out at Appendix A be noted.
(b) That the comments now made be forwarded to the Cabinet for consideration at its meeting on 29 March 2022.