CC Live: ‘Council charges for social care should be abolished’

Community care charging is “institutional discrimination” that threatens service users’ human rights and should be abolished, a campaigner told Community Care Live today.

James Elder-Woodward, chairperson of the Scottish Personal Assistant Employers Network, said charging was a “financial penalty” on people with impairments. He likened the charging system to slavery, calling it a “repressive regime that creates ‘vulnerable’ people and keeps them shackled to poverty and those in power.” Elder-Woodward, who has a disability, argued that community care services should be free at the point of delivery like health services.

He said an average of 25-40% of council revenue raised by charging was “swallowed up” by administrative costs and did not improve the quality and expansion of services.

Melanie Henwood, a health and social care consultant, said most local authorities needed to charge for non-residential services for financial reasons as resources were under increasing pressure.

Anne Williams (pictured), president of the Association of Directors of  Adult Social Services, said while councils were committed to the movement towards personally driven care, they were facing an “extremely difficult financial climate.”

She said out of £19 billion expenditure for social care between 2005-6, spread between £15 billion for adult services and £4 billion for children’s services, £2 billion was raised from community care charging.

She said more money was currently spent on people under the age of 65 than older people, and predicted wider introduction of individual budgets and direct payments would “blow open”  the divide and lead to a “huge hike” in spending.

Williams raised concerns over whether the current generation of taxpayers facing high mortgages and pension contributions would be willing to pay a higher level of tax to enhance social care funding.

She also predicted that the forthcoming comprehensive spending review in October would not lead to a significant increase in funds.

“We need a debate on how we are prepared to give as a nation,” Williams said.

Elder-Woodward said that talking about “taxpayers versus service users” made him “very angry” because “all taxpayers would become service users eventually.”

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 Maria Ahmed



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