Welsh cap care charges as fees for users go up in England

Community care charges will be capped at £50 a week from next month for service users in Wales, as their counterparts in England face mounting fees.

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Community care charges will be capped at £50 a week from next month for service users in Wales, as their counterparts in England face mounting fees.

Under the change, which will affect 14,000 of Wales’s 66,000 users of community-based services, recipients on maximum charges in one-third of Welsh authorities will save £7,000 a year. In other councils, those on maximum charges will save between £2,000 and £5,000 a year.

In England many councils are removing maximum weekly limits on charges, while increasing rates for home care, day care and meals services.

The Welsh reform follows the passage of the Social Care Charges (Wales) Measure 2010, to end the nation’s postcode lottery of charges.

Under the new measures, local authorities will continue to set charges as they consider reasonable within the £50 a week limit, subject to specific ceilings.

The maximum charge is the centrepiece of a wider package in Wales worth £10.1m a year to cut charges. This will be introduced on 11 April, and also:

● Bar local authorities from charging for the provision of transport to day centres.

● Provide financial safeguards for people on low incomes.

● Require authorities to introduce a consistent procedure for reviewing charges within a specific timeframe.

By 2013-14, the Welsh government expects to have pumped in an extra £35m to social services on top of the extra £10.1m a year to reimburse local authorities for the loss of income through charging.

The reform is being introduced as the Welsh government plans an overhaul of social services that will include a new countrywide eligibility threshold for adult care, a national adoption agency and regional commissioning, as part of a 10-year strategy.

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