Impact of new social work care charges is scrutinised

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CHANGES to social care charges introduced by Scottish Borders Council’s social work department at the end of last year have now been in place for over six months and they now want to hear from those affected as to how things are going.

The aim of the new charges was to make them fair and transparent, and it is service users and their carers and families who are best placed to let social services know whether or not that aim has been achieved.

They are also expected to bring in an additional £140,000 a year.

Charges for most services remained the same, including charging for residential care and home care. However, the way charges are calculated for some services have changed and, for some services, charges were introduced where previously there had been no charge.

These include the introduction of charges for day care and transport, for housing support and 24 hour support.

Andrew Lowe, director of social work said: “We promised the public an opportunity to comment on the revised charging policy we implemented last year and as part of that process are now interested in further feedback on the changes.

“I am confident that the principles we applied have resulted in a fair review of our charging policy, but would like to encourage all interested groups or individuals to take this additional opportunity to share with us the impact that these changes may be having on them or how they feel the new policy was implemented.”

For people where 24 hour support is provided in the community, a flat rate of £77.55 per week now applies but to offset that, people using such services should be entitled to Attendance Allowance or Disability Living Allowance.

The weekly rate for home care is based on the income of the service user, in line with COSLA guidelines.

Those using the 24 hour service who have an assessed capital of over £22,750 are now charged £155.10 a week.

And those who do not wish to declare their financial resources pay £12.80 per hour for care and home services including community and housing support.

Charges for day care have been set at £2 per day for up to a full day’s attendance or £1 for a half day. Anyone having lunch at a day centre will be charged a daily rate of £3.16.

And where transport is provided to attend a social work facility a flat rate charge of £1 will be introduced.

Before the charges were even implemented in November last year, complaints had already been made - a parent of a young man with learning difficulties who attends the Reiver Industries project in Tweedbank, calculated that the new day service fees will cost his son an extra £124 a month.

“Attending the Reiver scheme has transformed my son’s quality of life for the better,” he said.

“Fortunately, our family can afford to pay the new £2 daily attendance fee, the £1 transport charge and £3.20 for a hot meal, but I am really worried that other vulnerable people will stop using the services and that would be a tragedy.”

Comments can be made by Friday, June 24, either by email to SWTaskTeam@scotborders.gov.uk or by post to Social Work Services, Scottish Borders Council, Newtown St Boswells TD6 0SA.