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Finance - Fairer Charging

In September 2002, the Council changed its charging policy for non-residential care services to comply with guidance issued by the Department of Health.

This policy has been produced in accordance with the Department of Health guidance 'Fairer Charging Policies for Home Care and other Non-Residential Social Services'. The guidance was created with the intention of helping authorities comply with the requirement of the Health and Social Services and Social Security Adjudications Act 1983 which included creating charging policies that are reasonable to citizens. This is statutory guidance issued under section 7 of the Local Authority Social Services Act 1970. It does not apply to residential services where charging is governed by the Department of Health's Charging for Residential Accommodation Guide.

Charging for Domiciliary Care

This includes help with day-to-day personal and practical tasks to enable citizens to continue living independently in their own homes. These services can be provided by either the Council or by a private organisation, dependent upon the outcome of a care needs assessment. The potential charge would be the same regardless of who provides the service. The charge for services will be subject to a financial assessment under Fairer Charging.

The Reason for Charging

The Government allows local councils to charge for the services that have been proposed. Nottingham City Council has decided that it will charge for these services and it will base its charges on how much it believes citizens can afford to pay. The Government assumes that all councils charge and reduces the amount of money it gives us based on this assumption. It is therefore essential that the council charge to ensure that the demand for services is met and the necessary care is provided to people in need.

Financial Assessment

A financial assessment has been designed to assess and establish how much citizens can contribute towards the cost of services received. This is to ensure that the charge the council levy for services is fair and has been tailored to fully take into account the citizens financial circumstances. There is an opportunity to decline the assessment, however the consequence of this action is that it will be expected that a full charge will be paid for services received irrespective of the citizens financial situation.

A financial assessment is partly a means test but includes an assessment of essential housing expenditure; disability related expenditure and also identifies potential entitlement to additional benefits. Financial assessments will be undertaken for all citizens who receive Home Care and Direct Payments services.

All citizens are encouraged to have a financial assessment as it is likely that they will pay less than if they had declined to have the assessment. The consequence of declining would mean paying up to the full charge taking no account of the citizens financial position. However, some citizens who agreed to have a financial assessment are currently receiving a free service.

Specialist Financial Assessment Officers from the Fairer Charging Team will conduct a financial assessment in the citizens home as soon as possible following the completion of the care needs assessment. Citizens will be advised that they can be accompanied by a relative, friend or other representative during the financial assessment.

What we will need to see

It is helpful if the following information is available for the Financial Assessment Officer when they visit:

Income

  • Benefit books e.g. Pension, Income Support
  • Notification of private (occupational) pensions
  • Building Society books
  • Bank statements
  • Details of stocks and shares e.g. ISA's
  • Any other financial investments

Expenditure

  • Rent card
  • Council Tax
  • Mortgage details
  • Extra costs incurred due to disability

The Financial Assessment Officer will subsequently collate all the details and the outcome of the assessment will be calculated

Capital / Savings

This does not include the value of the citizens home and will not be taken into consideration in the assessment. The Government have set limits for how capital or savings are treated in the financial assessment.

The lower Capital limit of £14,250 is the amount of savings that is completely ignored and only levels above that are taken into account. The upper capital limit is currently £23,250 and for anyone who has savings in excess of this figure they will be expected to pay for the cost of the services they receive up to the maximum charge per week, dependent upon the number of care hours received (see Appendix 1 in the Fairer Charging Policy available to download on the right for details of the maximum charge).

If the level of savings fall between the lower and upper limit (i.e. £14,250 - £23,250) notional income is calculated based on the amount. The Government has suggested an amount of notional income at a rate of £1 per every £250 or part £250 above the lower limit. This will be added to other income.

To show how this works we will use an example of a citizen who has £15,250 in savings. The first £14,250 will be ignored leaving £1,000. There are4 amounts of £250 in £1,000 so the notional income of £4 per week will be added to the income.

Calculating your Charge

The charge levied will be based on a number of factors:

Assessable income

Less

Allowances/Disregards

Equals

Total Chargeable Income

The Government has set a figure and if your income is below this amount you will not have to pay for the home care or direct payments services you receive. This figure is based on basic Income Support including age and disability premium plus an extra allowance of 25%.

 

Assessable Income

This will include state benefits and any private or occupational pensions. The Assessment Officer will also ask if a claim for benefits is being dealt with as this will make the difference to any help the council can give pursuing additional benefits.

Allowances / Disregards

The following allowances / disregards will be made before charges are calculated (a disregard is an income item excluded from the financial assessment):

  • Basic Income Support plus 25%
  • War Pensions
  • The difference between high and low rate Attendance Allowance is classified as a payment for night-time care and is fully disregarded unless care is actually received during the night
  • The same rule applies to the care component of Disability Living Allowance this time the difference between the high and middle rate is disregarded
  • Mobility component of Disability Living Allowance -this will be fully disregarded
  • Benefits paid for children
  • All earnings from paid employment
  • Any housing costs such as mortgage and rent that are net of any housing benefit in payment
  • Any council tax payable net of council tax benefit
  • Community alarm systems
  • Respite care or privately arranged care related to disability
  • The additional expenditure incurred as a result of a disability. Appropriate evidence will be required to confirm expenditure

Notification

As soon as the Fairer Charging team have completed all calculations, a letter will be sent to the citizen to explain the outcome of the financial assessment.

If a citizen has been assessed as being able to contribute towards the costs of services, the letter will state the date from which charges will commence. An invoice will be sent to the citizen every four weeks for the care received. There are various payment methods available and these are listed on the back of the invoice.

If a citizen has been assessed as having insufficient total chargeable income to make contributions, there will not be a charge levied for services received.

Income Maximisation

If during the assessment the visiting officer notices that the citizen has potential entitlement to additional benefits, they will (with consent) make a referral on behalf of the citizen to either the Local Pensions Service or the Council's Welfare Rights Service. The appropriate agency will then subsequently contact the citizen to pursue potential benefit claims.

Change in Circumstances

If a citizens financial circumstances significantly change, the Fairer Charging Team must be informed as soon as possible.

Tariff of charges

The following charges apply for non residential social care services from April 2012:

  • Hourly rate of the Care Agency
  • Day care charge is £5.00 per day
  • Transport to day services will be charged at £5.00 per return journey
    It is important to note that all services stated above are subject to a financial assessment and charges will only be made after taking into account  assessed available income
  • There will be no maximum weekly charge for non residential social care services as the amount you contribute will depend on your individual Fairer Charging assessment
  • Citizens who have capital (excluding their home of residence) in excess of £23,250 or they have declined to have a financial assessment will be automatically be expected to make a contribution for their social care services

 

Contact Us

The Fairer Charging Team Nottingham City Council Resources Loxley House Station Street Nottingham NG2 3NG Email: fairer.charging@nottinghamcity.gov.uk
Tel: 0115 876 2525

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