Thoughts on care charging and welfare benefits

I support an elderly lady who lives entirely on welfare benefits – state pension, guarantee pension credit including severe disability premium and attendance allowance. This gives her a total weekly income of £250 – not a great deal of money by today’s standards. If Kingston’s proposals on care charging are adopted, her charges will rise from about £32 to £64 per week. It’s shocking that someone who lives only on benefits and has no savings should have to bear these charges. So much for hitting people with lots of savings and/or generous private or occupational pensions!

There’s another implication for people on welfare benefits. In 2013/2014 all Disability Living Allowance claimants will be re-assessed. At this point, claimants will need all the supporting evidence they can gather to back their claim, as the government wants to save 20% of what they spend on this benefit. One item of supporting evidence would be a care plan produced by a local authority care manager. But if people no longer use services because it’s not economic for them to do so given the level of charges, they won’t have a care plan and therefore won’t be able to use it as evidence.

Will the Council agree to produce care plans for people who don’t intend to accept a service? It’s a thought, but I doubt it – what’s in it for them?

Truly, these proposals have far-reaching consequences for people who are poor, for people on Disability Living Allowance – in fact, for everyone who needs social care services.

Jane Young

2 December 2010