- Cosla releases charging guidance for 2012/13
- Charging Policy Consultation by COSLA 2011
- Charging for housing support – an examination of current practice
- Issues Being Raised by Providers
- Supporting People Charging Policies – Issues for Providers May 2007
Cosla releases charging guidance for 2012/13
COSLA has released their charging guidance for non-residential social care services 2012/13. The guidance covers charging for non-residential care services that enable people to remain in their own homes. It updates the document originally issued by COSLA in 2002 and subsequently amended in 2006, 2009 and 2010.
Charging Policy Consultation by COSLA 2011
Revised guidance for local authorities on charging for non-residential services (including housing support and sheltered housing) has been put out to consultation. Views are invited about charging thresholds; benchmarking charges between areas and the implications of self directed support. The consultation ended on 22nd August 2011.
Charging for housing support – an examination of current practice
Read the full report from HSEU here.
The Cosla Charging Guidance for Non-residential Social Care Services 2010-11 is available here.
Issues Being Raised by Providers
Generally when local authorities charge for long term housing support services they collect the fees directly from service users and providers are not involved in the process. However, service providers do need to have a grasp of revised policies so they can provide potential and existing service users with accurate information.
In discussion with a number of providers the Unit has established the sort the information they would like local authorities to provide them with:
- Implementation date of charging policy revisions with at least 6 weeks notice
- Clarification as to who will be affected and what protection will be put in place for existing service users
- Contact person within the LA who is responsible for financial assessments being undertaken
- Timescale for a local authority to conduct a financial assessment and make a decision about any charge to be levied
- It would be helpful to know the maximum charge
- An information leaflet on the charging and assessment process for service users
Some local authorities have already produced information leaflets for service users. Two authorities agreed to circulate these leaflets as examples and are available here.
- Aberdeenshire Council's leaflet Contribution towards the cost of your Care/Housing Support [pdf-78.8kB]
Supporting People Charging Policies – Issues for Providers May 2007
Councils can charge services users of long term housing support services. In the past councils have tended to use HB as a passport to a 'free' service as per guidance from the Scottish Executive. As a result sheltered housing residents not on HB have tended to be the main group to be charged for housing support.
Most councils are now amending their charging policies in line with new CoSLA guidance on charging in order to bring long term SP funded services more in line with other social care services. Revised charging policies typically take away the HB passport to 'free' services for new service users and for people whose existing support package is being changed. (Long term housing support services are defined by the Scottish Executive as those intending 2 or more years of contact with service users.)
Impact on service delivery and on service users
At a recent SP providers event in Kilmarnock the new charging policies of East Ayrshire and South Ayrshire councils were the main topic for questions and debate. Some of the concerns that providers face were captured through a questionnaire delegates completed at the meeting.
Of 15 people who confirmed they were aware that their local authority had revised its charging policy, 6 were not aware of any impact the new charging policy has had yet with some mentioning that this might be due to limited implementation of the new policy. The comments made by the other 9 are summarised as follows:
Refusing support and repercussions
Six people have found that service users have refused support on the basis of being charged for the service. There have been repercussions of this refusal: homelessness, hospital admission and the need for crisis intervention were mentioned as well as a negative impact on other members of the family and carers.
Confusion and misconception amongst service users about charging
One person pointed out that there is some confusion amongst service users about how the charging policy works. Some service users expect there to be a reduction in charges if the level of support reduces but this is not necessarily the case.
Another participant pointed to resentment amongst service users as they become aware they are paying different rates for similar services.
Impact on spending power
Another participant highlighted that charging is having an impact on service users' personal finance for things like holidays and social activities.
Errors in charging
Two participants highlighted problems with the billing arrangements. One mentioned one case where errors resulted in someone paying for support they had not received whilst they were in hospital.
From the responses to the questionnaire and the issues raised at this event it is clear that there is some uncertainty as well as some concern about how the revised charging policies are going to affect services and people using them. Already there are examples of people refusing to use services because of the new charges and this refusal can be linked to a further deterioration of a person's circumstances. Whilst the feedback from one event cannot be used to suggest these issues are widespread it is important to acknowledge the sorts of issues service providers are highlighting. Local authorities thus have an opportunity to take steps to avoid unintended consequences of their new charging policies as well as ensure that providers and service users know what to expect.
If you wish to comment on or share your experiences of revised charging policies please contact Yvette Burgess or telephone 0131 229 9468