What Is The Future Of Home Care Fees?

HAFCAC put their questions to local political parties

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A residents' group that campaigns against home care charges for the elderly and disabled has asked local political parties to clarify their position on the issue before Borough elections on May 6th.

Hammersmith & Fulham Coalition against Community Care Cuts (HAFCAC) was formed around eighteen months ago, when the Council introduced an hourly fee of £10 rising to £12.40 for all home care services.

UntitledHAFCAC has accused the Council of penalising those who need help to carry out basic daily tasks, such as shopping, collecting pensions or doing the laundry, by making them pay for these services. The Council argues that almost all other local authorities charge people who use their services, that H&F have more inclusive eligibility criteria for services than most, and that they charge less than the majority of their London counterparts.

The questions HAFCAC put to the local Labour and Conservative parties, and their respective responses, are in the table below:

Local Labour Party Local Conservative Party Local Liberal Democrats

What is your party’s policy on charging disabled people and older people for essential community care services?

We have been able to identify savings that will allow us abolish home care charges. If we win the Council elections on May 6th we will abolish them.

Home care charges are a tax on old age, disability and sickness and therefore wrong. This is a definite commitment that has been written into our manifesto.

What is your party’s policy on charging disabled people and older people for essential community care services?

We plan no changes in our policy for the second term. The previous Labour Administration first introduced home care charges and pledged to abolish them in the run up to the council election in 2006. Home care charges were initially held at £10.50 and increased to £10.70 in 2010/11 (maximum charge could have been set at £12.57 which is cost to the council and well below the average charge for London (£13.50).

Only 1 council in London and 4 in the country do not charge for home care. Out of 78,000 households, around 1750 to 1800 people receive home care and only 340 people have been invoiced for home care who can afford to make this modest contribution to the cost of their care (they must have income 25% above income support levels).

What is your party’s policy on charging disabled people and older people for essential community care services?

Liberal Democrats will integrate the work of local hospitals, GPs, community services and local government so that people get a better, flexible and more personalised service.

This will help reduce costs and help keep people healthier for longer. We will establish an independent commission, with cross-party support, to
develop proposals for long-term care of the elderly. Seeking
consensus is the right approach but that will only work if the cross-party commission is free to consider all ways of funding social care, not just Labour's preferred policy.

The commission should report within a year so changes can be implemented straight
away.


What is your party’s position on the current eligibility criteria, Fair Access to Care Services (FACS)?

We believe the measures carried out locally by the Conservative Council, restricting access to services in 2007, were a cynical ploy that was used to deny people the care services they need. We would order an immediate review. This review will have the aspiration to widen the availability of services.

What is your party’s position on the current eligibility criteria, Fair Access to Care Services (FACS)?

 

No response

What is your party’s position on the current eligibility criteria, Fair Access to Care Services (FACS)?

FACS is centrally determined and a Liberal Democrat administration in H&F would have to work within the framework.

We recognise the eligibility criteria can be too prescriptive to meet the needs of all. We would ensure that assessments reflect the difficulties of predicting care needs for those with complex and/or fluctuating needs. We would put in place systems that are responsive to real need.

We disagree with using the framework as a means of rationing resources. We believe that the FACS categories can be used fairly to assess the distribution of the social care budget, but that they should not create an eligibility threshold which cuts large numbers of people off from all help and concentrates all resources on only those with high need.

Our objective would be to extend support to all categories in a phased way, but in the current economic climate, the appropriate
way to deal with "Low" need will probably be to provide advice and guidance, and direct people to other sources of support.

We believe that creating a threshold at the Greater Moderate level reduces the flexibility to be responsive to short-term needs and inhibits interventions which can prevent an escalation of need.

Would you be willing to return Hammersmith & Fulham access to pre 2007 levels, providing support to anyone who falls under the whole moderate banding?

We want to reinstate services back to the eligibility criteria levels they were under Labour in 2006. However, this is an aspiration and not yet a commitment as we will need to undertake a detailed review of the Council’s financial projections should we win control of the Council on May 6th. We would work with HAFCAC and other groups to carry the review out and look at how this aspiration can be achieved.

Would you be willing to return Hammersmith & Fulham access to pre 2007 levels providing support to anyone who falls under the whole moderate banding?

 

No response

Would you be willing to return Hammersmith & Fulham access to pre 2007 levels providing support to anyone who falls under the whole moderate banding?

A Liberal Democrat administration in
Hammersmith and Fulham would therefore aim to support all those within the Moderate banding.


What is your party’s position on raising charges for services that older and disabled people use i.e. home care, meals on wheels?

We will abolish home care charges and cut meals on wheels charges to 2006 levels plus inflation. This would save the users of the meals on wheels service almost £600 per year. We believe the local Tories' stealth taxes directed at the elderly, sick and disabled are wrong.

What is your party’s position on raising charges for services that older and disabled people use i.e. home care, meals on wheels?

 

See above

 

What is your party’s position on raising charges for services that older and disabled people use i.e. home care, meals on wheels?

Liberal Democrats oppose charging for essential social care and strongly oppose raising charges to meet budget shortfalls or cut council tax.

What is your party’s position on using debt recovery agencies, as the Council currently does to obtain unpaid home care charges from local disabled and older people?

It’s a disgrace that debt collectors are threatening elderly, sick and disabled people. The Council should hang its head in shame. We would end this.

What is your party’s position on using debt recovery agencies, as the Council currently does to obtain unpaid home care charges from local disabled and older people?

No response

What is your party’s position on using debt recovery agencies, as the Council currently does to obtain unpaid home care charges from local disabled and older people?

A Liberal Democrat administration in H&F should not need to use debt recovery services. It is essential to recover unpaid charges in order to be fair to everyone, but we would prefer to focus on dialogue and negotiation to ensure that charges are paid rather than using debt collection agencies .

"Most residents know older and disabled people who are family members, friends and neighbours and most of us will use social care services at some point in our lives. How politicians make policy around disabled and older people is very important," said HAFCAC chairperson Kevin Caulfield.

"HAFCAC has campaigned against any political party that has failed to address and deliver on key issues that affect the quality of life and human rights of disabled and older people.

"We would urge you, if you were thinking of not voting, to think about the responses of local politicians and now consider voting."

April 30, 2010