County Council uses one-off funding boost to delay disabled benefit cuts

Nottinghamshire County Council © westbridgfordwire.com
Nottinghamshire County Council © westbridgfordwire.com

utOn 17 October 2018, Nottinghamshire County Council agreed changes to the way the authority calculates individual contributions towards the cost of care and support. This decision followed a consultation in late summer with service users; relatives, carers and friends of service users; and the wider public.

It was reported yesterday that the head of social care at Notts CC apologised for a decision to increase the amount of money people with a disability in Nottinghamshire pay towards their care.

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More than 800 severely disabled people in Nottinghamshire were given just days notice that the amount they pay would be increasing, in some cases from nothing to £56 a week.

The council issued the statement below today:

The County Council, like other councils with social care responsibilities, faces significant challenges in meeting increased demand for its care services whilst absorbing significant reductions in the amount of funding available.

The revised contribution policy brings Nottinghamshire into line with many other local authorities, and with Department of Health & Social Care guidance to councils on the benefits they can take into account when determining the amount people are asked to contribute to their care costs.

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Nottinghamshire County Council has always been clear that anyone who needed support to understand and adapt to these changes would be able to talk to a Financial Assessment Officer from the Council’s Adult Care Financial Services Team, who would help them to ensure that they are maximising the benefits for which they are eligible.

We have listened very carefully to the concerns expressed, by some of those affected, regarding the timeframe allowed for the introduction of the new policy.

In response to these concerns, and in light of the Government’s announcement of £9.5 million of additional one-off funding for the Council, it is intended that a revised timescale for the implementation of the contributions policy will be brought to the Adult Social Care & Public Health Committee meeting on 10 December 2018.

The intention of the revised timescale, which is currently being finalised, is that no-one will be expected to contribute more as a result of these changes until April 2019 at the earliest, after which the changes in contribution will be phased in gradually, so that full implementation will not be until November 2019.

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Councillor Stuart Wallace, Chairman of the Adult Social Care & Health Committee, said:

“The changes the Council is making to its care contributions policy are in line with many other local authorities and entirely consistent with the Department of Health & Social Care Guidelines. Even so, we have listened carefully to the concerns expressed by some people about the timescale for implementation, and we now propose to phase these changes in more gradually, which will give people more time to prepare and to consult our specialist financial advice services.

“This revision is possible because of an additional £9.5 million of funding for Nottinghamshire County Council that has just been announced by the Government. I must emphasise that this is one-off funding, but we are using the short-term flexibility this offers within our budget to bring the changes in more gently. It does not alter the overall purpose of the policy, which is to ensure a fair and sustainable long-term approach to individual contributions that is consistent with the rest of the country. If we didn’t introduce this, we would only put at risk other critical services we provide.”