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22 Aug 2017
Dundee Stronger Together

Interesting news today from the Petitions Committee.  The Clerks organised that our petition on ending social care charges for everyone be heard shortly after a petition from Amanda Kopel which was also seeking to end care charges for people with Alzheimer's and other degenerative conditions.  Because the Cabinet Secretary Shona Robison had been present for an earlier petition she stayed on to comment on the care charging issues.  Her news was

  • Professor David Bell from Strathclyde University has been working on financial options for achieving fairer and more consistent care charges. He has now finished this work and the report is with the Scottish Government.  
  • The Scottish Government agree in principle that they need to take action to achieve a fairer social care charging system.  
  • The Scottish Government would be reforming care charges for all service users regardless of disability or condition. 
  • There were a number of options that the Scottish Government were considering such as Increasing the minimum income disregards or extending Free Personal Care to the under 65s
  • The options that would be eventually chosen would depend on the final decisions over the budget for the next 3 years in Novembers spending reviews
  • The Scottish Government proposals would be published well before the dissolution of the Scottish Parliament in March 2016

This Wednesday sees the launch of a consultation on a private members bill to abolish all social care charges and the work has begun on a number of legal cases to challenge the fundamentals of social care charging.  We are hopeful that these efforts will come together to achieve real and lasting change.

This paper is a speculative exploration of what these additional consequences might be.  We believe that the actual cash amount raised is only the first part of the calculation.  In addition there are the high costs of collection, the cost of emergency care for those who decline preventative services because of the level of charges, and the lost income from those who cannot work.  We also believe that the costs of abolition needs to take into account any extra demand for social care that might arise if more people request social care once there is no charge.   

Our calculations suggest that the actual cost of abolishing care charges is actually less than half of the amount taken off disabled people – only £22 million instead of the £50 million charged to disabled people. 

 

But a second element to the calculation suggests that there might be net gain if we take into account the wider changes as a result of abolishing care charges.  With more people going to work and additional spending by disabled people, there could be a net gain of £5 million per year.  Read the Report Here

Man with Asperger's 'punished for being disabled' after council charges £1,000 for support service.  Steven Oliver uses an outreach service that helped him secure a part time job - but he says the charge means there would be little point in working.  

An article in the Daily Mirror shows the increasing concern about rising care charges.  

A man says he is "being punished for being disabled" after a council gave him with a £1,049 invoice for the support that allows him to work.

Steven Oliver, 40, who has Asperger Syndrome, had been receiving vital Self-Directed Support (SDS) through an outreach service provided by Autism Initiatives Scotland (AIS).    This support has enabled him to work in a part-time job, for five hours a week over the last year. But Steven was told in November last year that Scottish Borders Council would be asking those using the service to pay a contribution to the cost and in May he received an invoice for £1,049.

Steven, who makes £144 a month in his job, said it will take seven to eight months for him to pay the bill off.   It means there is little point in Steven working, as he only works a few hours a week. But he has vowed to continue working as it "is a job". Steven, from Duns, Berwickshire, said: "I was absolutely gobsmacked when I received the invoice. It took me completely by shock.

"When the financial assessment was carried out last year, I, along with many other users of SDS were led to believe the contribution would be a modest one.  While I understand that savings have to be made, the council's attitude - which appears to be one of 'not our problem' - is disgraceful.  Part of having Asperger's, it's like autism, is the intense anxiety of situations like this, so you can imagine how receiving such an invoice made me feel. The fortnightly meetings with my social worker are designed to combat that. She's really helped me, with practical and emotional help, things I couldn't do on my own."

Read the Full Article Here.  

Care Charges – Scotland’s Hidden Rival to the Poll Tax

A patchwork of different 32 different ways of taxing disabled people who require personal and social care is generating anger and discontent across Scotland and levels of non-payment now rival that of the Poll Tax.   Thousands of disabled people all over Scotland are refusing to pay a tax of up to 100% on their income while Scotland’s local and national  politicians have failed to end what everyone agrees is an unacceptable situation.  

Shona Robison, Cabinet Secretary for Health, states that “charges made by local authorities for social care, where necessary, need to be fair and affordable.”  But figures from 29 Scottish local councils suggest that disabled people have given up waiting for the Scottish Government to sort the problem.  

19% of disabled people, some 14,500, who pay care charges are now in substantial arrears in their Care Tax payments and councils have started debt management procedures against almost 5,600 people.  In 2014, 25 disabled people were taken to court for non-payment of their Care Tax.  

In the first year of the non-payment campaign of the Poll Tax only 12.8% of people didn’t pay.  It was only in the second year of the Poll Tax that non-payment levels rose to 21%.

While there is a popular campaign to end care charging led by Scotland Against the Care Tax, no organisation has yet called for an official non payment campaign.  The current levels of non payment are simply the actions of those who cannot afford to pay an unfair tax that leaves them unable to pay for the essential things in the lives of disabled people.