The Strategic Director Social Care and Education submits a report to inform the Adult Social Care Scrutiny Commission of the findings of a consultation exercise in relation to proposed changes to the charging policy for non-residential care services.
Members are recommended to note the consultation findings and make any comments to the Strategic Director and Executive, and note the implications of Covid-19 on the approach to implementation of any decision.
This agenda item was taken last.
The Strategic Director Social Care and Education submitted a report which informed the Commission of the findings of a consultation exercise in relation to proposed changes to the charging policy for non-residential care services. Members were recommended to note the consultation findings and make any comments to the Strategic Director and Executive and not the implications of Covid-19 on the approach to implementation of any decision.
Councillor Russell, Deputy City Mayor, Social Care and Anti-Poverty, stated a commitment had been made to bring the results of consultation back to Scrutiny. It was further stated that it was not known if the Government would try to recoup some of the additional monies it had paid out during the pandemic, or whether funding increased if the Government recognised difficulties. The Deputy City Mayor also said the Council did not want to be in a position to reconsult and increase anxiety.
Ruth Lake, Director of Adult Social Care and Safeguarding presented the report and brought to the attention of Members recommendations contained within the report, but deferral implementation from April 2021 due to the pandemic, as detailed in section 3.8 of the report. Members were asked to note options identified for consideration in relation to the treatment of disability benefits provided via the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and were provided at section 3.6 to the report.
Councillor Kitterick outlined reasons why he believed the report should not be considered during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the decision to take away £1.3million worth of cuts against the most vulnerable in society. He added that in light of the pandemic until the authority could look at the whole of the budget for the foreseeable future that Scrutiny give the strongest steer that they recognise financial pressures, but that the authority stay with Option 1, to continue disregarding the higher or enhanced rate of disability benefits down to the lower or standard rate, within the financial assessment, and for a future consultation to be undertaken, and that the Council look across all finances following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Councillor Russell stated she completely understood Members’ opinion on the report, but the changes would not affect all individuals but would be tailored to individual circumstances. She added the council was in a difficult position and had been asking government to look at funding for Adult Social Care since 2010.
The Chair noted that the report was due to be brought to the Adult Social Care Scrutiny Commission for a while, and that sooner or later a decision would have to be made, and that the consultation had received a good response with over 1,000 people responding. The Chair asked that if the proposals were approved and the maximum increase of £29.45 contribution per week be required, what support would those people affected get as a buffering zone. Matthew Cooper, Contracts & Assurance Business Manager, drew to Members’ attention that the potential income levels of £1.3million was based on an estimate of take up of benefit in Leicester and affected those on the higher rate of disability benefits. It was further noted the figures should be considered with caution the authority could apply discretion. A social worker would look at the care package in place alongside benefit being claimed, to look at other welfare changes and benefit cuts, and to assess impact on the individual with regard to ‘Minimum Income Guarantee’.
Ruth Lake reported that if a decision was not taken within a reasonable timescale since consultation, it would be open to legal challenge if people felt the outcome of the consultation was no longer relevant to making a decision, and that in the future there would need to be commissioned a new statutory consultation.
The Chair noted Members’ concerns in relation to the treatment if disability benefits. He noted the arguments to consider Option 1 and have further consultation on the matter for a final decision and asked for Members’ opinion.
Councillor Kitterick moved that Option 1 be taken as the agreed option from the report to maintain the status quo, and when looking at finances the authority undertaken another wider statutory consultation following the Covid-19 pandemic, the findings of which would be brought back to a future meeting of the Scrutiny Commission. This was seconded by Councillor Batool, and on being put to the vote the motion was carried.
1. The report and comments by the Scrutiny Commission Members be noted.
2. Option 1 be taken as the agreed option from the report to maintain the status quo, and when looking at finances the authority undertaken another wider statutory consultation following the Covid-19 pandemic, the findings of which would be brought back to a future meeting of the Scrutiny Commission.