To seek approval for the revised North Tyneside Council Contributions Policy for Adult Social Care and Support Services.
Cabinet considered a report seeking approval for a revised Contributions Policy for Adult Social Care and Support Services following the outcome of a public consultation between 2 and 27 June 2021.
247 responses had been received. Of those who had responded 58% were members of the public, 29% were carers of someone accessing services and 6% were people who accessed services themselves. The findings of the consultation showed that 95% of people taking part supported the need for good quality adult social care. This was a position the North Tyneside Council fully supported.
The public consultation focused on two particular issues. These were the Pension Age and The Minimum Income Guarantee.
The Authority currently financially assessed people to be over pension age at the age of 60. However, following changes in Government regulations, an individual’s actual pension age was now 65, 66, 67 and 68 depending upon their date of birth. Other departments in the Authority, for example, Revenue and Benefits, already adhered to an individual’s actual pension age when carrying out assessments. The consultation had focused on changing the pension age used from 60 to an individual’s actual pension age.
Changing this would affect 109 clients by an average increase in charges of £44 per week.
The public consultation showed that 47% of people who responded supported the move to actual pension age. The reasons were that this was fairer and in line with Government regulations. Those who disagreed either felt they did not have enough information to comment or felt that people should not be charged for adult social care support. Most people were concerned that people should receive support regardless of their age.
In relation to the Minimum Income Guarantee, when undertaking a financial assessment there was a monetary threshold which was disregarded, to ensure individuals had a set amount of money to live on prior to the setting of a charge for their adult social care services.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) set a defined rate, the Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG). This was set out in a circular each financial year. Councils must disregard this amount of money, but they could consider setting a disregard above this rate.
North Tyneside were currently using different thresholds following a consultation in 2018. These rates were not financially sustainable and were not in line with neighbouring authorities. The consultation had therefore sought feedback on a proposal to adhere to the MIG as set out by DHSC or setting it at 5% above this. Both options would result in a lower threshold than was currently in place.
The consultation findings were that 20% of people felt it should be set at the same as the DHSC MIG, the reasons were that this would be in line with the Government and would be fair across the country. 60% felt it should be MIG plus 5%, the reasons for this were that it was felt that MIG was set too low and so should be set higher and 20% felt that neither of these were suitable. The reasons for this were that people either felt there should be no charge for support or that the Authority should set a higher disregard than the two options considered.
The consultation showed that the majority of respondents felt that the rate should be set at the DHSC MIG plus a further 5%.
Cabinet considered the following decision options: to accept the recommendations set out in paragraph 1.2 of the report; to not accept the recommendations; or alternatively to continue with the current arrangements.
Resolved that (1) the reviewed Adult Social Care Contributions Policy be approved;
(2) the use of an individual’s actual pension age, as set out by Government, for financial assessments be approved; and
(3) approval be given to use the threshold for Financial Assessments as the DHSC Minimum Income Guarantee plus a further 5%.
(Reason for decision:The Contributions Policy needs to be fair and equitable for all people. The rates applied for disregards need to be financially viable for the Authority and this would bring the Authority in line both regionally and nationally. The proposals take account of the public consultation findings and support the Authority’s overall financial position.)