Concern over the cost of care

Lincolnshire County Council offices in Lincoln.
Lincolnshire County Council offices in Lincoln.

Concern has been raised for adults in need of care as cuts in Government support increase pressure on council budgets.

Coun Marianne Overton, member of the Lincolnshire Independents for Branston and Navenby on Lincolnshire County Council, has spoken out on the subject.

Providing the backdrop for her comments are the financial challenges facing the authority. The council is expecting a budget reduction of at least £40m for the next financial year in the wake of Government cuts, with savings of at least £130m needed over the next four years.

Coun Overton says adult care is an area that may suffer.

She points to the council’s plan, approved last year, to raise an extra £900,000 from the service each year.

Measures include raising the weekly maximum charge from £250 to £400 in 2016/17 and to remove it in 2018/19.

She said: “Let’s not be fooled, reducing support too far does not mean we keep the money in our own pockets. We still pay, but ad hoc, individually and taking the risk on ourselves. If people don’t take the care because it has become too costly, there is a greater risk of admissions to our hospitals who are already struggling.”

She added: “Extremes based on political mantra in both Labour and Conservative parties are not helpful. We need to look at the facts and focus on what will best benefit our residents.”

The council has moved to reassure residents, saying if someone is eligible for adult care and cannot afford to pay, they will not be charged.

Coun Patricia Bradwell, executive member for adult care, said: “We assess people’s financial circumstances to see if they can afford to contribute towards their care. In fact over a third of people we support in their own home do not pay anything.

“We’ve recently agreed changes to our policy about what people pay towards non-residential care to help meet growing demand for our services. We’re currently one of the lowest charging councils in the region. Many other councils have already reviewed their charging policies and the changes we’re making align us more closely with those authorities.”

“The changes will bring in an extra £900,000 a year from care contributions to help us support more people who cannot afford to pay. But if you don’t pay anything now, and your financial circumstances haven’t changed, you still won’t pay anything under the new policy.”

Since 2010, people with £23,250 or more are required to meet the cost of their own care, but can still have a care assessment for free. This threshold is set by the Government, the council stresses.