Julie Morgan MS
Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services,
Cardiff CF99 1 NA
DOMICILIARY CARE CHARGING IN WALES
Following the recent Age Cymru Press Notice, I am writing to express our concerns about the proposed increase in Domiciliary Care charges in Wales and the manner in which it is being handled.
The principles of the Fairer Charging policy in Wales, including the 2011 maximum weekly charge of £50 for home care were very much welcomed by older people and their representatives. At the time, this was groundbreaking and introduced a concept that was subsequently recommended by the Dilnot Commission more generally for England. These policy changes were fully funded by the Welsh Government by adjusting the Local Government Revenue Settlement on a permanent year-by-year basis.
The proposal to increase the maximum weekly charge from £100 to £120 is the thin end of the wedge and damages the positive progress that the Welsh Government has made over the last decade. If you take account of inflation from 2011, the weekly charge should now be at £70. Therefore, the increases since the introduction of this policy have already outstripped inflation by a considerable margin. The proposed increase of 20% to £120 therefore undermines your policy of fairer charging and makes the stated Co-operation Agreement objective of free care at the point of delivery even more of an unachievable dream.
The way that this proposal directly targets vulnerable older people on relatively low income is unacceptable. It amounts to over £1000 a year and would wipe out any recent pension and benefit increases and more. The cost of living rises most directly impact on this group and it would be fairer to delay any increase until the economy recovers or at least introduce a proportionate increase in line with inflation.
It is only this group that will be affected. Most of those with sufficient income will purchase home care services on a private basis directly from providers. The number of people who use the income declaration waver in the legislation to get council support is minimal. This proposal therefore unfairly picks on those who are above the threshold for Council support but do not have enough income to purchase privately. This will mean making unacceptable choices to cope with cost-of-living increases or, as will inevitably be the case, put even more pressure on unpaid carers who are family or friends. This will undermine your Carers Policy.
The democratic and consultation processes for this proposal have already been compromised. A local councilor is quoted in the press [https://uk.news.yahoo.com/care-home-charges-across-wales-160000613.html suggesting the Welsh Government has already agreed that they will introduce the proposed increase in the maximum weekly charge. This is simply unacceptable and should not have occurred. We would therefore request a full explanation of how this happened and assurances that statutory consultation will be meaningful and that the views of older people on this important issue will be listened to and acted on.
Dr Ralph Stevens