A meeting of the council’s Executive on 13th January is due to consider a recommendation to proceed with the consultation.
Councillor Steve Stubbings, Executive member for adult social care, said:
“We are seeking a broad and thorough consultation on these proposals, which have been generated in response to new requirements placed on the council under the Care Act 2014.
“The consultation, if approved, will seek the views of relevant service users and stakeholders, together with potential users and other interested parties.
“The proposals due to be considered under the consultation seek to make sure those eligible are financially assessed to contribute fairly towards their respite care and sitting service based on their ability to pay – and ensuring enough money is retained to meet their everyday living costs.
“We will take full account of the feedback and consultation findings before bringing finalised proposals to the council for consideration.
“It should be stressed, however, that these proposals are set against the backdrop of new legislation and extreme financial pressures facing the council, affected by factors including reducing government grants and the rising costs of providing services.”
The report to the Executive states that the new requirements in the Care Act 2014 are viewed as representing the biggest changes in social care legislation in 60 years.
The new duties under the Care Act 2014 include: supporting carers on an equal basis to other adult service users and supporting self-funding people to access care through the council.
It means from April 2016 an increase is envisaged in the number of people approaching the council for help with their care and support. This is because the upper limit starting point from which a person will be required to meet the full cost of their care fees without financial support from the council is increasing. The new upper capital limit is expected to be different dependent upon whether the care will be required at home or in a residential care setting and will be subject to further national consultation in February 2015.
To help meet the expected increased costs, the council is seeking to amend its current charging policy by removing the flat rate weekly charge for respite care (that is applied for up to eight weeks in a year) and introduce a charge that is based on a financial assessment of the cared for person.
In addition, the council proposes to introduce an assessed charge for its sitting service based on a financial assessment of the cared for person, to replace the existing two hours of free sitting provided each week.
Under the proposed new arrangements the council has no intention of removing or reducing the provision of respite care and sitting services.
Currently 512 people receive either respite or sitting services – and 726 receive a personal budget that may include a need for these services as part of their support plan.