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.