Council plans to charge self-funding adults for care assessment

Northamptonshire Council is considering £50 assessment fee for adults who need to pay for their care

Photo: highwaystarz/fotolia

Northamptonshire County Council is planning to introduce a £50 charge for social care assessments of adults who need to pay for their own care.

The plan, currently out for consultation, will see individuals with assessable savings and capital investments in excess of £23,250 having to pay the £50 administrative charge for an assessment of their care needs.

A spokesman for the council said: “Adult social care services across the country are means-tested, which means people above a certain level of savings and investments are expected to contribute towards the cost of their care. Paid-for care services are only intended to help those who cannot help themselves.”

The spokesman added that the plan is a reaction to budget pressures. “In these times of reduced funding from central government, our current consultation about how self-funders pay for care and support seeks to make explicitly clear what is the council’s role and what are the expectations of the service user if they are eligible and able to make a financial contribution.”

Right to assessment

However, the move was criticised by the Alzheimer’s Society.

“A key principle of the Care Act is people’s right to assessment of their care needs. Charging for this is wrong,” said Andrew Boaden, senior policy officer at the charity. “The burden of paying for care already leaves many people choosing between a hot meal or buying in help to shower and get dressed.

“Many are left with no option other than to sell their home to buy care. Others struggle on unsupported, increasing their risk of ending up in a crisis that requires emergency hospital care or early entry to a residential home.”

Barrier to support

“Charging for an assessment is another barrier to support that will make this already dire situation worse,” Boaden added. “We sympathise with the budget cuts local authorities are having to make but these should not be passed on to people who desperately need and are entitled to care.

“Instead a long-term solution to funding the social care system is required and must be addressed in the Budget in March.”

The consultation on the assessment charge ends on 1 February. The authority intends to make a decision on the charge on 14 February.

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22 Responses to Council plans to charge self-funding adults for care assessment

  1. Pete Feldon January 23, 2017 at 11:45 am #

    Presumably Northamptonshire take the the view that paragraph 8.14 of the Care and Support Guidance can be set aside. This paragraph states: “The local authority must not charge for certain types of care and support which must be arranged free”, and on the list is “assessment of needs and care planning may also not be charged for, since these processes do not constitute ‘meeting needs’”.

    It could be argued that the local authority has no power to make a charge at this point. Sections 17 (1-4) of the Care Act make it clear that the consideration of charging must takes place after eligibility has been determined, and there is no power in the Care Act or the The Care and Support (Charging and Assessment of Resources) Regulations 2014 that allow for this to take place earlier.

    • CHRIS MARTIN January 23, 2017 at 8:28 pm #

      I agree, completely unlawful and will no doubt be subject to a Judicial Review application which the local authority will lose and be ordered to pay costs. What a waste of tax payers money, instead of saving money its going to cost them thousands.

    • Jan January 25, 2017 at 1:25 pm #

      Totally agree. This also means that a financial assessment would be done prior to a needs assessment cart before horse I think. Cllrs should ask how much will this cost to implement. It’s just another obstacle.

  2. Clare Evans January 23, 2017 at 2:53 pm #

    We self funders get a bad deal by any measure but this proposal is unbelievable. The professionals will certainly need to up their game to provide a better service if they expect us to pay for it. However may I suggest that user led organisations who already provide assistance to service users about how to meet their needs, may provide a better service for the fee! The statutory assessment is more about making it hard for users to meet criteria of need in order to ration the service, than really give people an opportunity to discuss their needs and how they might be met whilst enabling the user to remain in control. Let’s have some imagination about this at least!

  3. Yvonne January 23, 2017 at 3:07 pm #

    Apart from the money issue where people may feel unable to afford the assessment, or put it off for a another time, which may mean their health or social needs may have escalated. It may also add to peoples anxieties (who may need an assessment).

  4. Jenny January 23, 2017 at 3:50 pm #

    They just don’t get it do they? Or perhaps this is another cynical way of dissuading people from “troubling” the Local Authorities for help?
    Given that we know the NHS is all too good at passing off their responsibility for funding people with a Health Need, this is only likely to further penalise people who should not be paying anything.
    How does this possibly square with the National Framework appendix requirement to make the availability and extent of CHC funding known to the community?

  5. Chris-G January 23, 2017 at 4:42 pm #

    Is this charge being made by the council or LGSS, their bully boy privatised financial and legal services provider?
    By the organisation that refuses data under the data protection act and denies that personal financial data is recorded and therefore cannot be divulged under a subject access request, because it is of an ‘ephemeral nature’. Yes, I have thatvstatement on record….. as part of the council’s refusal to comply with full disclosure in a care funding row.
    I also agree with Pete Feldon, above but these people ride roughshod over law and decency so unless he has a few spare thousands to risk, this matter will never be putnin front of a judge and so these people will getvaway with it as usual.

  6. very mature student January 23, 2017 at 5:31 pm #

    This proposal is quite shocking and ill thought through.

    Current legislation clearly states people with care and support needs are ALL entitled to an assessment, at no point does it state the assessment must be paid for if you have savings/capital above the threshold.

    Many elderly people would decline to pay for an assessment as they may believe they don’t need it and don’t wish to use their hard earned savings to pay. They are proud and will just try to struggle on without support, increasing their chances of self neglect/falls/isolation etc etc.

    If this policy is introduced it could mean many disabled/frail/elderly people without family who need care and support will be hidden and undectected to LA’s…until it is too late.

    Where is Northamptonshire’s common sense and humanity?

  7. Serow January 23, 2017 at 8:33 pm #

    Playing devils advocate, after having endured numerous CHC assessments;
    I would imagine that any proposed “fee” would be deferred if it meets with public resistance; but claimed quietly from any asset latterly. While it may state that people are entitled to an assessment- it does not state that there should be no charge…sickening, I know.

  8. Carol Reid January 23, 2017 at 10:31 pm #

    This is disgusting and not what I came into social work for. BASW should strongly challenge it.

  9. Joe January 24, 2017 at 12:12 pm #

    I wonder whether the article has the wrong end of the stick given the clarity of the law and it is infact £50 to broker any subsequent services?

    • very mature student January 25, 2017 at 4:20 pm #

      It states the £50 is an ‘administrative charge’ for an assessment of care needs, meaning before any care planning is done via the council or a broker if appropriate.

      Either way what it implies is the £50 is charged for a needs assessment which should be done PRIOR to a full financial assessment to establish if service user meets threshold to pay.

      I’m sorry to say I’m of the opinion they will try to find some way around it, like completing the needs assessment first and advising ‘you may be charged for this if the financial assessment proves you are above threshold’.

      I am appalled by this manipulation of vulnerable people.

      Northamptonshire County Council hang your head in shame!

  10. Susan daniels January 24, 2017 at 12:24 pm #

    I am a self funding person in another council area
    I was never offered a council assessment merely discharged with an assumption I would be paying for my own home care ( I live alone and am partially paralysed as the result of a stroke)

    • Ruth Cartwright February 1, 2017 at 12:14 pm #

      This is common practice – when it is clear someone is likely to be a self funder, they are discharged from Hospital to sort out their own care, often without even being referred to social care. Then their care needs are being assessed by the agency who will be providing that care – no conflict of interests there of course.

  11. Marie Casey January 24, 2017 at 2:02 pm #

    Charging for an assessment goes against the spirit of the Care Act. People’s financial situation will be assessed before need. Completely at odds with the Act. If this is permitted, then what else will be charged for? Advocacy, safeguarding assessments? As situations may change rapidly, will people have to pay for each review? All those who promote and protect people’s rights should combine forces and lobby against this move–it is the slippery slope.

  12. John McDermott January 24, 2017 at 7:41 pm #

    This proposal is both ridiculous and desperate. As a Social Worker I hope this is challenged by a service user advocacy group. It is immoral, unethical and by my reading of the Care Act and its guidance, unlawful.

    • very mature student January 25, 2017 at 9:54 am #

      I totally agree John.

      When I read this article I went straight to the Care Act guidance which clearly states everyone with support needs is entitled to an assessment.

      It does mention a financial assessment will take place at some point to establish if a service user meets threshold to pay for services (this may take place concurrent to assessment or later).

      However if an assessment does not take place in the first instance due to a service user declining to pay for it, how can it be established if the service user meets the threshold to pay for services? Some people may think they meet the savings/capital threshold as they don’t fully understand the process, therefore may refuse to pay for a needs assessment (and consequently a financial assessment), when in reality they could be entitled to free care and support, or part funded care and support.

      Without a full assessment of needs, or a financial assessment neither will be established, and many people will suffer, which is a failure in our duty as Social Workers. It is totally unethical and a contradiction to our Code of Practice.

      if this policy gets approval all Social Workers should stand together to challenge it.

  13. Sally January 25, 2017 at 1:01 pm #

    I totally agree that the proposed plans are completely unlawful. In my current role I have been examining every aspect of the Care Act so as to present it in a more accessible way to practitioners and it is absolutely clear that none of the care and support processes can be charged for (assessment, support planning, review). In fact, as is pointed out above the duty to assess finances only applies after the assessment has taken place and, where they are taken into account sooner must have no bearing on the assessment that is carried out. If I were a self funder I would refuse to have a financial assessment until after my needs had been assessed.

  14. Jimi January 25, 2017 at 3:34 pm #

    Totally agreed to previous comments, the question is where will this end, the constant finding a way to make life harder for the vulnerable people. At a time when they should be looked after and cared for.

  15. Chris January 25, 2017 at 4:42 pm #

    Charging for assessment is illegal under the Care Act. Simples

  16. Heledd Wyn January 26, 2017 at 6:50 am #

    The Care Act 2014 is quite clear on this point. Care needs are to be assessed first as a statutory duty and then finances to be assessed as to whether self funding. We all know that 3 ways (broadly) to pay for care – NHS (free), social care (for those with limited means) and self funding. There can of course be anamlgamation of these 3 but the duty of any local authority to assess those needs under the Care Act is clear. We all know that there are limited funds for a plethora of reasons and that this is a huge problem. However it is not going to be tackled by illegally charging for care needs. Greater public awareness of planning for their future needs to happen and cross-profession collaboration will help with that. Social workers, medical professionals, financial advisers and lawyers all have their place in this – but need to work with the individuals who require care (whether now ornpotentially in the furure) to plan for this need.

  17. Ian Winter CBE January 26, 2017 at 10:29 am #

    The Care Act is clear . Northamptonshire are wrong and wasting time and money .