Thursday, October 26, 2006

Careless Tories treble home care charges...

Serious concerns about the radical Tory policy to treble home care charges for some of the most vulnerable people in Lincolnshire have now turned to alarm.

As the Tories brushed aside one of the biggest ever ‘call-ins’ from ten Labour, LibDem and Independent members, more questions than answers have been raised:

· Despite earlier claims on local radio by Council Leader Martin Hill that “fewer than 100 people” would have to pay more, it has now emerged that the real number is nearer 2,000.

· Contrary to his claim that “the charges haven’t been looked at for some time”, the Council has now admitted putting the charges up – by inflation - as recently as last year – in addition to the increase from £3.50 to £5.00 two years ago.

· It is now known that the new benefits team to assist people get cash they are entitled to – so the county council can take more from them – has not even been recruited and will need full training.

· Despite claims the “the Government is forcing us to do it” and that Lincolnshire charges far less than other councils, Labour has produced evidence showing that the maximum hourly rate for similar services provided by four-star local councils across the East Midlands is £8.10. Labour-run Derby City and Derbyshire - both four-star - don’t charge a penny for their home care provision

By contrast, two-star Lincolnshire County Council is pressing ahead by almost doubling charges from £5.10 to £10 – after imposing a 40% increase just two years ago which they promised would balance the books.

The Conservatives refused to think again and pushed ahead with their plan to increase home care charges for elderly and disabled people to £10 an hour, with the maximum charge raised from £40 a week to £120.

Yet again, it’s the most vulnerable in our society who are coming under attack from an uncaring Tory Lincolnshire County Council.

15 comments:

Liz said...

I am not sure I agree with your argument. Allowances for people with disabilities are many and they do receive direct payments from social services to buy the services they need. I cannot find how much Lincolnshire County Council pay per hour but understand it is equivalent to what it would cost the department to provide the care. If it costs £15 an hour to provide basic community care then individuals receive this amount - more if they need specialist help. No doubt you could find this out Phil? I am very sympathetic to those who require extensive help to survive in the community but do feel that as a society we do our best to ensure they have a comfortable living standard. Benefits are very good - DLA and Mobility (or car)and there are numerous grants, exemptions (road tax), reduction in council tax, personal taxation etc. None of this in anyway augers against the great stress of living with a disability but it does make live a little easier. Maybe it would be easier for individuals not to have the choice to receive direct payment and return to community care provided for by the state? You cannot have it both ways. I too am aware of the other vulnerable groups who need help such as pensioners. They often are the silent majority who would rather retain their dignity than claim what they are entitled to. Finally, on this occasion, I believe the County Council have reached a decision in the best interests of the whole community. After all those who cannot afford to make contribution will not have to do so. Is this not how we conduct all aspects of the welfare system?

Anonymous said...

There are lies and dammed lies but Mr Dilks you are guilty of the latter! I think your deceitful labour colleagues call it spin.
The intention is to charge those who can afford to pay not those who are vulnerable, on any form of benefit or diabled. They will pay nothing

MORE LABOUR SPIN

Liz said...

I think you are wrong anonymous. Some disablity benefits are taken into account - for example, disability living allowance, pensions from employers etc. I understand, Mobility allowance is not used nor is earned income as the government wants disabled people to work. Anyway, I managed to find out all the information from the Orchard News website. There is a detailed options document submitted to the council by Adult Services. I am aware now of the hourly rate charged by other councils as well as the rate given to individuals who elect for direct service payment. I think it would have been fairer Phil if you had provided us with the higher rates charged by some councils as well as the rates you provided. The average for all listed was some £10.17 I believe?In addition some councils have no upper limit - a bit alarming (one of the protestors stated he received some 30 hours care a week). It would have been more balanced to include this too. Finally, I have read the document provided to councils by the government on the formulae to adopt to ensure fair charging for home care throughout the country. I feel personally that everyone has done their best to be fair. I acknowledge those who have been in receipt of heavily subsidised services and not met the cost (whilst their state benefits have increased)will be horrified. I am sorry about this and it is a timely reminder for councils to ensure service users know the full cost of the services provided and the level of subsidy required.

I have experienced another nutter.... said...

With the exception of fair deal phil....

Do any of you have a disabled relative that rely on NHS care? or is all your knowledge and opinions based on your text book uni readings?

Answer one thing.

A couple work hard and save their money for them both to have a nice retirement, one is struck down with a critical illness and left disabled.

Both, in their working healthy life paid their taxes so are actually entitled to free NHS healthcare.

Why should their joint savings pay for the care the ill partner needs?

What were their taxes then for?

When the devastatingly sad moment comes when the ill patients passes, who will fund the care and retirement of the currently healthy partner as their savings have all then gone?

especially when government pension is appalling?

Convert said...

I hear what you say Phil, but as a former keen Labour supporter, I'm convinced that Cameron is the new messiah.

liz said...

I am not sure the comments from another nutter are accurate. Yes I do have a relative who relies on community care and they pay hundreds of pounds a week in another county. It is a county that does not have a ceiling on community care costs. My reading is based on trying to assist this person and I depended heavily on the pressure group disability alliance. I am not at uni (was there 40 years ago though)- hope this does not disqualify me from comment and an attempt to find information to assist others who are unable to do so themselves? By the way, partners (and spouses') income is not taken into account in determining charges. Further, one does not pay for NHS care in the community - this is free for those who require such things as nursing. One pays for community care - help with dressing, shopping etc and you pay only if you can afford to. Retired pension is another issue and as you know the link between earnings and pension was removed by Margaret Thatcher many years ago. It will be restored in a few years time - thank goodness. I expect taxes will go up to pay for it though - we are all living longer.

I have experienced another nutter.... said...

Liz. Your statement is not quite true.

(quote) "By the way, partners (and spouses') income is not taken into account in determining charges." and "Retired pension is another issue and as you know the link between earnings and pension was removed by Margaret Thatcher many years ago." (end quote)

If you had read my comment I actually said....

Why should their joint savings pay for the care the ill partner needs?

When the devastatingly sad moment comes when the ill patients passes, who will fund the care and retirement of the currently healthy partner as their savings have all then gone?

Their JOINT savings are both their retirement fund, these savings are their income.

Why are they expected to spend everything they have for the care to then leave the "well" partner no income for their last years?

Maybe Divorce is the only option?

The wellfare state we are encouraged and expected to buy into just does not deliver.

fairdealphil said...

anonymous:

i stand by my post. it is not me who is lying.

you may not like me and others standing up for vulnerable people, but it is a fact that some people who now pay £40 a week will now have to pay £120 for the same service in one leap, when we have record low inflation.

A couple of weeks ago the Tory Leader told the people of Lincolnshire that "fewer than 100 people" would pay more.

It now transpires that some 2,000 will be expected to pay more.

Was this spin or a lie or just a slip of the tongue?

Either way, I look forward to Martin Hill apologising to the people of Lincolnshire next time he's on radio...

There's lies, damned lies and then there's Tory statistics.

fairdealphil said...

Liz

thanks for your contreibution to this debate.

we were not provided with all the comparitive figures of what other councils charge for a similar service.

The Council Leader simply made the assertion that Lincolnshire charges less than the national average and that the Government was forcing up the charges.

My colleagues on the Labour group had looked up the charges at neighbouring councils across the East Midlands.

Lincolnshire is rightly trying to become a four star council.

Yet if you look at the four star councils across the East Midlands, Lincolnshire is shown up as a high charger.

Doubling the charges in Lincolnshire is a political policy by Lincolnshire Tories.

If some of the best performing councils like Labour Derby and Derbyshire can provide this service for no charge at all, why can't we?

Richard said...

Whilst 'Anno' deserves little more than an ASBO, 'Liz' requires a worthy response. Unfortunately, never time myself for 'Uni', not even 40 years ago, my old text books - those I typeset and designed - have long ago been discarded. Just as has the 'rule book' that once I thought our Society held up as honest and correct. Surely Liz, you've noticed the changes ?

In simple terms, after a career paying all Taxes and NI, a 'pot' of savings may be, say, £100,000 Clearly such a sum would make any 'service user', wealthy enough to pay 'top whack' of any 'fairer charges policy'. However, these 'savings' may have been created (gathered, won, scrimped, awarded) to provide an 'income' or 'pension'. Regardless of a couples individual share, whether half each, presumably their 'pot' has been allocated towards their own immediate future - not that of any financially challenged Council !

£100K might generate £4,500 a year. Council Tax - say Band 'D' - would cut that by a third. Say £3,000 then remains - but who knows when the washing machine, the TV, the roof, dramatically packs up ? Meanwhile there is that new £4,000 'extra' home care charge each year. Gosh Liz, I didn't needed 'Uni' to understand that particular part of modern life - whether in 1966 or 2006

Indeed, it never took 'Uni' to educate me upon the economics of 'disability'. And I am certain the LCC 'FAB' team, those illusionary "Finance Advisory and Benefits" employees (yet to be recruited) will know any better. The "fairer charges" is a term used to avoid its real meaning.

Please understand Liz, the term "Charge the Cripples" would have been as honest, as it is crippling !

liz said...

Richard - I do understand your feelings although I loathe you writing "tax the cripples". It is not a term worthy of the rest of your argument and if I was disadvantaged I would hate anyone to label me in this way. I agree with much of what you say regarding being frugal and saving for retirement only to have the pot taken away. Of course you omitted to take into account current income in the form of benefits/pensions in your £100,000 analogy or, have I misinterpreted that? My annual pension increases have not met the higher cost of local government charges, fuel increases or household maintenance and I am having to draw on savings to meet living costs. It is of course galling as some friends who earned the same income and who never invested in pensions/savings are entitled to all sorts of advantages. However, this gets into the debate of "deserving" v "undeserving" groups in society and it is very difficult for those providing the service to balance needs from so many competing forces. This in no way justifies actions taken by LCC - they have not spent tax payers money wisely over recent years. Look at the cost of legal fees over the Council leadership debacle which seems to have been to protect the interests of the ruling Conservative group rather than the residents of the county. As Phil says, a couple of councils do not charge for community care (others charge a fortune) then it is worth knowing how some councils divide resources as there is little difference in government grant and community charge within the East Midlands. Am I silly in thinking that is why the Government brought out the fairer charge guidance because of the vast differences? I do not expect any council to be caring - I do expect them to spend money wisely, without favour and to justify their decisions. It is up to us (through the ballot box and exercising our right to study budgets under FOI)to ensure that the decisions they make are in accord with our wishes. It is only with knowledge I would feel able to challenge any decisions made by the Council on my behalf.

Richard said...

Liz - I am sorry if a "Cripple Tax" offends you, but perhaps that is why "Fairer Charges" was selected to 'market' the policy ? Clearly 'Political Correctness' plays its 'present day' part.

Forty years ago, regularly driving towards Apex Corner from Stanmore, a warning road sign announced, "SLOW - Cripples Crossing". I wonder who removed that sign ? Or did its 'users' move away - or simply become faster ?

Having met more 'insensitive people' in the 'care industry', than those without any 'vested interest'. As 'Buffy' may sing, "Angels on the take, Hoodlums in the yard" - I've met the District Nurse Team Leader whose sick patients are apporant to her ! Perhaps her Primary Care Trust requires a Blog of its own ? Whilst a 'Caring Council' (despite its Taxes) may be naive to 'expect', a "Caring District Nurse" would not be unreasonable to expect ! Oh, yes Bob, "The times they are a changing" !

My simple £100,000 sum, even if doubled or tripled, would have naturally included 'DLA' and 'Incap Ben'. Free motor car and road tax as well. IR 'blind person allowance' could be pushing somebody's luck - driver, pedestrian o both ? Nevertheless, that £100K sum (give or take several Grand) remains the same.

At the stroke of a pen, LCC has shifted the 'goal posts' of many vulnerable people. £4000 extra - as from November, with no warning (who told who) is robbery. Plain and simple 'robbery' - a plain and simple "Cripple Tax" (even if I say it myself).

The reality is - after 5 years and death - the surviving partner's 'share of a decreasing pot' has been reduced by £20,000 The chances of 'democratic' adjustment are impossible - ask Phil about last Thursday's "called-in" meeting, and time spent by 'all Tory Exec' upon petty 'point of order'.

Sorry no time for spell-check - please Liz, if reply, break up into paras - as Apple's Victoria starts at the beginning each time.

I understand Red Imp is heading South fast - he is 'out of 'ere' ! And I guess I'll follow, before I'm too old or infirm . . .

Liz said...

Richard, I did not know that you had personally been effected by the changes. I will listen to the debate at the council as the link is available on the Orchard News Bureau site. (Thank you for the link Phil). That site also has the report on the £500,000 deficit and provides an example of the charges for community care by many councils.

I am horrified when you write that nursing staff are unsympathetic and indeed some find their role abhorrent. I thought care was about dignity and kindness. I know that GPs roles are changing - many of them are just business people to me. As you say, when you are in need of a service you are sensitive to how you are dealt with and are quite able to pick up on other's feelings towards you. How on earth do you stop yourself from ranting at them all. Awful to cope with personal issues as well as taking on the system and the officials paid to provide the service.

Because of what I have learnt from this blog regarding the disparity of charging throughout the country, I intend to exercise my right to look at how the council spends my money. The Audit Commission site tells me how to do this. I read somewhere that Michael Crick looked at Wandsworth Council's accounts and it was the first time in fourteen years that a member of the public had requested to do so!!

Is the decision now final? If as you say the meeting when the matter was "called in" was improper and it has been recorded -can that decision not be revoked? Phil might assist as he no doubt knows the appeal procedures.

Richard - keep fighting and don't let the --------- get you down.

Richard said...

Thanks Liz - both for 'Victoria's' many paragraph breaks - and no scolding for my 'abhorrent' spelling.

Between ourselves we have cranked up more 'comments' upon Care, than could Phil's 'Fox' observations. Clearly 'Celebs' cannot score all the time - although a Hamster stole Red Imp media attention - albeit 300mph vs stationary 24 hours cannot compete !

Blogs are quite new to me - my learning, via distant tutorials from my youngest son - stated but weeks ago. Fair Deal Phil was found when 'care' was searched - although I met him in person at nearly the same time. 'Blogging' developed by an influence of several ingredients. My 'learning curve' deserved Zero comments http://careless-council.blogspot.com/ but may create some amusement with you ? Perhaps you've been there already ?

Liz - I shall try to 'do you proud', as it is obvious you'll do likewise.

fairdealphil said...

Richard:

good to see you here.

keep on blogging. don't worry about spellings or protocol. the blogosphere is very friendly and helpful and your voice will come through loud and clear!!