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One year on – impact of adult care charging policy revealed.

August 30, 2017 12:04 AM

In August 2016 Wiltshire Council introduced a new system of charging for adult care which resulted in many people paying more for the services provided by the council.

About 3,500 people are potentially hit by the changes. However they first have to have an assessment of their financial circumstances, with assessments being done annually thereafter. By early July though only about 600 assessments had been completed. So in this case the council's internal slowness and incompetence is working to the benefit of its customers!

That may not last though as WC say that, "… the Cabinet Member has requested a business case be put forward to increase the number of financial assessors on a temporary basis, so that the remaining reassessments can be completed ahead of the original schedule and we can be sure that … the financial benefit for the Council is maximised."

The purpose of the business case would be to ensure the new assessors would extract more from elderly and disabled people than the costs of employing those assessors.

WC admit that the additional amounts so far paid by clients as a result of the assessments is equivalent to an annualised figure of £2.3million

Inevitably this causes hardship for some. Healthwatch Wiltshire were commissioned to look into the impact and have come up with harrowing tales of the effect on some families. This has been caused both by the results of the assessments and the blundering way the council went about the process. In fairness WC claim the way they engage with clients has now been improved.

The Healthwatch report and the WC response will be considered by the Health Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday September 5th. Agenda - item 9

Meanwhile the council is also looking to cut funding to organisations which support vulnerable adults. This role is currently carried out by Healthwatch, Wiltshire Centre for Independent Living, Wiltshire People First, and Wiltshire and Swindon Users Network. Healthwatch must continue as it's a legal requirement, but money for the other three could disappear. A decision on that will be made by the WC Cabinet on September 12th.