Changes to our Adult Social Care Contributions Policy
The results from our consultation
During the summer of 2022 we ran a three-month consultation exercise to get feedback on proposed changes to our Contribution Policy. This policy will affect how much people may pay towards the cost of their Adult Social Care “non-residential” care and support (given at home or in the community). No changes are proposed to contributions for permanent residents of residential or nursing care accommodation.
These proposals would increase the total income we get from contributions, which is essential for us to keep funding vital services. Many people may have to pay more – some will pay less, and for some there will be no change: this depends on the models of funding chosen after this consultation.
We wrote to all 2,400 of our current non-residential service clients as well as community groups and partner organisations, launched documents on our website and through the Sandwell Herald, and held two drop-in events where people could come and ask questions about the proposals and be provided with forecasts of the likely impact on their own financial contribution.
However, once the three months were up we had only received about 40 responses; which means that they were of limited value in helping us make our decisions. In the end, we made decisions with the aim of trying to avoid some people having really large increases in the amount they have to pay, which we thought was most important due to the cost of living issues currently facing everyone.
What have we decided to change?
The main model
The way we work out how much you should pay towards care and support at home or in the community is based on a national model. It is calculated from your income and capital, and after making a range of allowances, what is left (if any) is your disposable income – what we think you have left over to pay for contributions.
Sandwell have for many years chosen to leave people with 53% of this disposable income figure, and based what you have to pay on the remaining 47%.
This is more generous than most other local authorities locally and nationally (most of who take all 100% of disposable income), but is no longer affordable; so the three models we proposed in the consultation all reduced this by various methods.
We have decided to adopt what was Model 2 in the consultation because it is the most balanced in its effect. Less people have an increase in this model than in Model 1, and the scale of increases is lower than in Model 3. It leaves people with 20% of the disposable income figure, and bases what you have to pay on the remaining 80% of your income.
It also introduces a lump sum banded DRE allowance to be set against your income if you currently receive a standard or higher rate of DWP disability benefit – although if you have higher expenses, you can still claim for those. This allowance against income will benefit anyone who receives these DWP benefits and who has disposable income.
To reflect the increases in costs people are already facing, we have increased the allowance for the higher rate of DWP disability benefit to £10 (it was £9 in the consultation).
We will go ahead and introduce transitional protection to protect people from large increases in their contributions caused by these changes. It will limit the overall change by phasing it in over a period of up to three years, with people facing a maximum increase of £30 a week in each of the three years. Because our changes start from 2 January 2023, the first year will actually be for 15 months up to 31 March 2024.
Joint financial assessments for couples
The Care Act says that each person must be treated individually so we know we must stop offering people who are part of a couple a joint financial assessment. Because we realised that for many couples, this change would increase their contributions further, we included it in the consultation so that we could apply the transitional funding above to phase in this change, and this will now go ahead.
Short term care (respite)
We will proceed with our change to the way we charge people for short-term residential or nursing care (respite). Currently, everyone pays a flat rate fee. In future, they will be financially assessed so that people pay according to their income (as they do for other services). This means some people will no longer pay at all, others will pay more.
The amount people pay will now be based on the actual cost of the service, but we noted from the consultation that people were concerned that some specialist respite services are very expensive. We have decided, therefore, that will not use a weekly charge higher than the council’s rate for nursing care for older people.
If you currently receive a non-residential care and support service from us (one that is provided to you at home or in the community) then you will receive a letter from letting you know what your new contribution will be from 2 January 2023.
For any queries on that, or on the changes generally, please contact us at the Community Care Business Unit (Non-Residential Charging Team):
Telephone: 07341 682547 or 07887 826455 or 07887 893539 or 07766 780242
For more information about how we arrange and charge for care and support you can visit our care and support for adults web pages.