Cabinet received a report which was submitted following a consultation on proposals for Adult Social Care charging; a referral from the Scrutiny Commission for Health Issues and a referral from the Corporate Management Team meeting held on 11 November 2015.
The purpose of the report was to provide information for consideration on a number of proposed changes to the Council’s Adult Social Care Charging Policy; for Cabinet to receive responses and comments from the public consultation; to receive responses, comments and recommendations from the Scrutiny Commission for Health Issues and to seek Cabinet’s approval of the recommended changes to the charging policy and for the method of implementation of these changes.
The Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Integrated Adult Social Care and Health introduced the report highlighting the main issues contained within. In response to concerns raised with regards the proposed increase in charges, he confirmed that the proposals would not affect those individuals who could not afford to pay.
The Council’s Financial Systems Manager added further points of clarification and drew Cabinet’s attention to an addendum document which had been circulated prior to the meeting which detailed recommendations from the Scrutiny Commission for Health Issues, these being:
i. That option one in respect of the charging policy proposals, ‘Agree to the changes and apply these from the earliest available opportunity as part of the routine financial assessment process,’ is the preferred approach; and
ii. That income generated from the Adult Social Care Charging Policy be ring-fenced for re-investment in adult social care services.
Cabinet debated the report and in summary, key points raised and responses to questions included:
· Assurance could be given that each resident would only pay what they could afford as the personal financial and care need circumstances of each individual who received care services, and received a financial assessment, were taken into consideration;
· The process of assessment was outlined and it was confirmed that each one was carried out on an individual basis, with no mass assessments undertaken;
· Care charges represented about 16% of the total adult social care budget and in respect of financial implications to the Council, it was advised that in the year 2016/17 additional charges could generate an estimated additional £260k;
· If agreed by Cabinet, the changes would become part of the Council’s policy and would be a permanent change to the way the Council calculated how much individuals would have to pay towards their care. The Policy reflected current guidance and should there be any future changes to this guidance, the Policy would be reviewed accordingly; and
· The report highlighted comparator and benchmarking information which detailed how other Councils were approaching the issue. The majority of Council’s were facing the same challenges as Peterborough and the opportunity for charging had been taken up in order to maximise revenue.
Cabinet considered the report and NOTED:
1. The proposed changes to the Adult Social Care charging policy and the recommended option, this being option 4.7(a), as set out in the Cabinet report;
2. The responses and feedback received from the public consultation on the charging proposals;
3. The comments and recommendations of the Scrutiny Commission for Health Issues on the charging proposals, these being that:
i. option 4.7(a) in respect of the charging policy proposals was the preferred approach; and
ii. that income generated from the Adult Social Care Charging Policy should be ring-fenced for re-investment in adult social care services.
4. To approve the proposed changes to the charging policy, as set out in option 4.7(a) within the report to Cabinet, to take effect from the earliest available opportunity as part of the routine financial assessment.
5. In approving the policy Cabinet NOTED the recommendation from the Scrutiny Commission for Health Issues ‘that income generated from the Adult Social Care Charging Policy be ring-fenced for re-investment in adult social care services’ and confirmed that this was the case.
REASONS FOR THE DECISION
The proposed changes to the charging policy and the preferred method of implementation would ensure that the Council’s Adult Social Care Charging policy:
· Met statutory requirements;
· Maximised income from charges, and in so doing generated additional revenue that would assist the Council in setting a balanced budget, and would help to maintain and extend adult social care services against a background of increasing demand and financial constraints; and
· Continued to charge people in a fair, consistent and equitable way.
ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS CONSIDERED
Alternative charging policy options were outlined within the report to Cabinet. These being (original lettering used):
b) Agree to the changes but phase these in over a three year period, limiting the increase that would apply to each individual to a third of the total increase figure (i.e. the full impact of the increase would only be felt in the third year – 2017/18);
c) Agree to implement only some of the proposed changes, and operate a more generous version of the charging policy; and
d) Leave the charging policy unchanged, and continue to operate a more generous version of the charging policy.
These options were considered and rejected because they would not generate the estimated additional income from care charges that the recommended option would.
The challenging financial climate and increasing cost pressures that the Council faced made it imperative that all revenue sources were maximised where this could be done fairly and legitimately.