Agenda item

Care and Support Charging Policy

For the Adults and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee to consider and comment on the Care and Support Charging Policy.


The committee received an introduction and presentation on the care and support charging policy from officers Susie Binns (Welfare and Financial Assistant Team Leader) and Lee Davis (Head of Prevention and Support).


The key points were given in summary:


·         The proposals would cost the council £596K and put money back in the pockets for the majority of service users.


·         If all the proposals went ahead it was expected 73% (822) of people affected by them would have a reduction in changes, 8% (90) of those people would no longer have to pay for care, and 27% (308) may have an increase in charges.


·         It was estimated those with increased charges would pay on average £6.03 a week more, there were 28 working age people whose charges could increase by £23 a week, these people would be offered a full review.


·         The aim was to implement the changes on 11th April 2022 when benefits change to save duplicating work and confusion for service users.


Paul Smith (Acting Director for Adults and Communities, Herefordshire Council) pointed out that a significant amount of work had been done on the consultation, every single person in the system had been contacted in writing, but there had been a disappointingly low response.


The committee noted and commended the depth of the consultation.


The committee raised concerns about the small group of people being impacted adversely, especially those with no capital reserve. The committee felt it would be important to reach out to these individuals and possibly arrange face-to-face meetings with them to discuss the changes.


The committee anticipated that it was likely to hear disproportionately from the 28 individuals paying more and that the option should be available for them to have a face-to-face before they have to pay.


The committee felt the proposals made sense and would benefit most people, but early engagement with those impacted would be vital


The policy needed to be well publicised, with clear communications highlighting the fact that many people would be benefit from the changes.


The committee asked about measures to account for rapidly rising inflation and whether there was a safety net for to accommodate for rising prices and fuel costs.



It was explained that those with income above the minimum benefits will have a small percentage taken back in charges. People of pensionable age who have a savings element to their pension may get a savings credit of approximately £10 a week depending on circumstance.



The committee questioned the mixed use of percentages and statistics throughout the report and suggested using numbers of people (on a consistent basis) instead of percentages, to avoid any ambiguity and confusion.


The committee questioned timescale of letters going out to people and potential anxiety, uncertainty and worry the changes might cause.


The Welfare and Financial Assistant Team Leader explained people would be contacted in April so they are aware of changes before being billed at the end of May. The letters would be personalised and illustrate how much better/worse off the individual would be. The team intended to provide much more information about what the charges are, what they will mean for individuals and offer them the chance to ask for a review and contact a helpline.



The committee noted that many of the consultation responses were well thought out and contained interesting insights. It was felt that it would be useful to capture some of those fuller consultation responses and explanations and take them away to learn from, especially those where peoples’ experience was that there was no incentive to be independent.


The committee felt the responses highlighted public feeling that there was secrecy about what can be disregarded with DRE (Disability Related Expenditure) and that people needed to be able to make informed decisions and be empowered to make those decisions.


The Welfare and Financial Assistant Team Leader acknowledged that historically not enough information had been given about DRE as should have been. However, the relevant web pages were being updated with more information and future invites for financial assessments would tell people up front what was considered to be a disability related expense.


The committee felt that in relation to information being given to people there was a need for jargon busting and much plainer English.


The Acting Director for Adults and Communities, told the committee that the team has accepted an offer to work with the ‘Making it Real’ board to develop and improve the guidance and information and make it much more accessible than it is at the moment. The Making it Real board was becoming much more of a force for co-production, it helped in rewriting some of the consultation and would be used in future projects. Making it Real would have a voice and would be embedded in the integrated care system as a recognised group



A conversation took place between the committee and the Acting Director for Adults and Communities about the evolving relationship between the council and self-funders. The Acting Director suggested that this might be best treated as a separate item. If the Adult Social Care Reform Act becomes legislation it would have a significant impact on the council’s approach and support to self-funders.


The committee suggested a briefing workshop should be held to discuss this further.




The recommendations below were proposed and seconded and carried unanimously.








The Committee recommended that:

a)    A briefing/workshop should be held to look at the evolution of the relationship between the Council and self-funders.

b)    The author of the proposals will return to the Committee with two or three scenarios illustrating how the changes will impact the working poor and other individuals within the county.

c)    Future reports published should avoid potentially ambiguous use of percentages.

d)    The feedback/comments on the consultation be used as a learning tool.

Supporting documents: