Oxfordshire council is considering a new charging policy that could affect two-thirds of the 4,800 adults in the county who currently contribute to the cost of their care.
Plans include passing on the full cost of home care, ending joint financial assessments of couples and introducing an annual fee when the council both sources and manages the provision of care.
The council says the changes are a response to rising demand for adult social care in the county and will better align its offer to self-funding adults with the Care Act 2014.
The changes are expected to boost the council’s adult social care budget by an estimated £1.5 million a year, which it plans to spend on providing care to people with significant needs who do not contribute to the cost of their care.
The council also says some of the changes will make the financial assessements more efficient and quicker.
The proposed changes, set out in a consultation that runs until 20 March, include:
– Using the actual cost of individuals’ home care to calculate their contribution rather than an average hourly rate of £19.40
– Reducing the initial charge for arranging care services while introducing an annual £210 charge for those who have their care sourced and managed by the council
– Ceasing to provide non-statutory services, such as telecare to people who do not have eligible needs, for free
– No longer offering couples the option of a joint financial assessment instead of an individual assessment
– Introducing a default disability expenditure allowance of 25% of disability benefit and no longer providing the allowance to people who do not get disability benefits. People will be able to request an individual assessment if they feel this means their allowance is too low.
While some people will see increased charges as a result of the changes, the council’s impact assessment says that others will see their costs fall or remain the same.
Costs are expected to rise for an estimated 40% of the 3,500 people who have a disability expenditure allowance in their assessment.
Of the 243 people who have had joint financial assessments, the council predicts around 45% will be worse off following an individual assessment.
‘Fairer and more consistent’
A council spokesperson said the changes aim to “ensure a fairer and more consistent approach to assessing the financial contributions made by individuals towards the cost of the social care services they receive”.
Subject to the outcome of the consultation, the council intends to introduce the changes in September to allow time for financial re-assessments and to enable individuals to prepare for any changes to their contribution towards their care.
The changes will not affect the 2,000 people in Oxfordshire who do not contribute financially to the cost of their social care.