Reductions in Care Services

EDA has been contacted by a number of people who are are starting to see reductions in the number of support or care hours they are receiving and consequent reductions in the amount paid into their direct payment. Some clients are also being notified of increases in their assessed financial contribution but have not received a breakdown of the contribution. EDA has been supporting individuals when they have approached us but the following may also assist those who are experiencing similar issues.

If you have access to the internet then you can go to Professor Luke Clements’ (the author of Community Care and the Law) website, click on “Resources” and then on “Challenging Reductions in Care Services.” or download the pdf here. The article explains in simple language how you can challenge a reduction in your care package.

For those of you without internet access to the internet Professor Clements makes the following points:

  • The guidance to the Care Act states that care packages should be reviewed at least once a year.
  • Importantly it says at para. 13.4 the “review must not be used as a mechanism to arbitrarily reduce the level of a person’s personal budget.”
  • If the care package is reduced the law requires a detailed explanation as to why e.g. the individual’s condition has improved and hence they need less care.
  • In addition it must not be assumed a carer is willing or able to provide any care and that includes additional care needed if a care package is reduced.
  • A council may suggest that although the individuals’ needs have not changed they can be met by using a cheaper source. However, that source must actually exist. The revised care plan drawn up after a review would need to detail who does what, when and how to show how the assessed eligible needs will be met.

Professor Clements also notes in an article (Care Act overview, January 2017) on his website that:

In the short term it appears that there has been little material change to local authority charging policies…

 

So it is not immediately clear why financial contributions are being materially increased. However, Enfield council have issued a new edition of their policy booklet, “Charges for community care for people living at home 10 April 2017 to March 2018.”

It notes on page 1:

There may be further changes to this policy during the financial year April 2017 to March 2018, these are currently under consultation and may result in your assessed contributions being reviewed during this financial year.

This consultation has not begun. However, from a proposed list of consultations on the council’s website the following comment is made:

To consult on changes (as) to what the income the council includes the financial assessment of care charges.

This may be a reference to the inclusion of Disability Living Allowance (DLA care component) and the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) in the financial contribution calculations in full i.e. the night time element is included in the calculation regardless of whether the council provides night time services. This is a contentious issue but EDA believes that the approach could be challenged on the basis of existing case law. When the consultation is due to begin details will be provided on EDA’s website.

With regard to the issue of providing a breakdown of the financial contribution the statutory guidance to the Care Act states at para. 8.16:

Where a local authority has decided to charge…it must carry out a financial assessment of what the person can afford to pay and, once completed, it must give a written record of that assessment to the person.

Local authorities are required to act under the guidance. So again a challenge could be made.

EDA will keep you informed as matters develop.r

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