by billhoult on 27 July, 2013
The cuts are prompted by a considerable reduction in the Council’s income from the Council Tax freeze and reductions in direct Government funding.The Full Council considered whether to put the following out to consultation on Wednesday 24 July 2013
1) Review of Fair Access to Care (FACS). This basically moves the entitlement to Social Care from Moderateto Substantial. The proposal is expected to save £1.4M over the two
years 2014-2015 and 2015 -2016. To mitigate the effect moderate clients may still be allowed to access re-ablement, telecare and other equipment and any removal of Care will be actioned over a period of time rather than suddenly.
Within the consultation document on FACS the following observation is made-
“There is a notably lower proportion of people with a learning disability in Low or Moderate compared with Substantial and Critical. There are a lower proportion of people with mental health issues in Low or Moderate, although a notably larger proportion with FACS unassigned”
2) Review of Fairer Contributions Policy (£740K over two years), to collect all of the contributions due and ending the de minimus level of £5 following more effective payment systems, removing the current 90% cut off point for payment and charging 100% of the costs and charging for up to two carers as against one now(providing that the means calculation allows it. It is acknowledged in the consultation document that charges in sheltered housing or supported accommodation for people with learning disabilities are likely to be affected.
3) Review of Public Transport Policy (£1.1M over two years)This would result in less bus services being funded by interpreting the criteria that the Council must meet more strictly. Obviously with fewer buses there would be an increased “isolation” factor for all affected particularly in the rural areas.
4) Review of Post 16 Transport Arrangements (£400K over two years) By seeking to work more closely with schools to find savings. The charges to parents for a bus or rail pass may increase however for those with children with a statement of special needs/Education, Health Care Plan they are exempted from the current charging plan and this will continue to be the case.
5) Review Charges at Household Waste Recycling Centres (£250K saving over two years) To charge a fee for the deposit of rubble and soil at the Council’s Household Waste Recycling Centres. The concern here is that it may increase “fly tipping” in the countryside.
Before introducing the changes the Council is required to consult interested Parties on the Equality Impact Assessment Criteria of each change and this is what the Council voted to do. The consultation will be held in September over a twelve week period. Obviously it will be essential for all Parties to make their case either against or for a modification of the changes.
Liberal Democrat Group Position
Obviously we must take account of the difficulties the NYCC is in due to the financial circumstances and our main concern must be the reduction from Moderate to Substantial to qualify for care.
At the meeting I set out the Liberal Democrat Group’s concerns about the change of entitlement for care fromModerate to Substantial which apart from being a backward step in care terms was questionable economics. When some years ago the welcome change was made by NYCC the Authority to move from Substantial toModerate it was claimed that although costing more in the short term this would be more economical in the longer term as it would prevent the otherwise earlier deterioration of clients thus needing a greater element of expensive care much earlier. This risk is actually acknowledged in the consultation document however no evidence has been presented to confirm that the £1.4M savings can be achieved. It also has to be set against the admitted £1.150M additional costs in the first two years of reassessing current clients for both FACS and the Fairer Contributions policy.
I was also able to point out that in a recent newspaper report it was claimed that the number of elderly people occupying hospital beds in 106 hospitals had recently risen due to the changes by local authorities of their Care thresholds by Local Authorities. It is Government policy to look for closer cooperation between the NHS and local authorities and this seems to run counter to that ambition. In short the consultation needs to be robust and not just a box ticking exercise.
I do hope that you will access the report which can be found in the 24 July 2013 Full Council Agenda which you will find on the North Yorkshire County Council web site.
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