The full extent of the postcode lottery for accessing adult social care services has been revealed today with the publication of the eligibility criteria each council planned to use this year.
The figures, gathered by the Commission for Social Care Inspection and provided to the Learning Disability Coalition, show there is substantial variation in the eligibility criteria that neighbouring authorities planned to use in 2007-08.
For example, in the North East, all four levels of need are represented: low in Sunderland, moderate in Darlington and Stockton-on-Tees, substantial in eight authorities and critical in Northumberland.
There was also wide differences between regions in England. Only one authority in the West Midlands planned to support people with moderate care needs or below, while in neighbouring East Midlands just over half of the councils did.
The overall figures, published earlier this month, showed that nearly three quarters of councils said they would be providing services only to people with substantial or critical by the end of the financial year. But today’s council-by-council breakdown show that a handful or authorities also planned to raise their criteria by at least two categories. Kingston, Medway and Wolverhampton councils expected to move from low to substantial this year, while Wokingham has moved from moderate to critical.
No councils expected to move the other way, while only two – Sunderland and Calderdale – were meeting low needs.
Earlier this month, a Community Care survey laid out the impact of tightening criteria on the ground. It found one-third of adult social workers would be prepared to exaggerage clients’ needs to ensure they met a service threshold, even though two-thirds of this group feared it may be later questioned by manaers.
Today’s news came after Harrow Council appeared in the High Court yesterday to defend its decision to increase its threshold to critical in a judicial review.