Liverpool CC – our response to care & pet charges consultation

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Here is our joint response to the consultation. See below, the report on the consultation findings is going to the Cabinet meeting on 5 February 2021 “for a decision as to whether to implement any of the proposed policy changes“.

28 December 2020

Adult Services Consultation

Liverpool City Council

Joint response from Sue Ferguson and WinVisible

We strongly object to proposals to increase social care charges, increase the hourly rate which people may have to pay, up from £10/hour to the full cost, to remove the cap on weekly charges, and to charge people for looking after their pets during a stay in hospital.  We oppose charging for social care generally, see WinVisible’s submission to the Health and Social Care Select Committee inquiry, Social care: funding and workforce.

Any such increase, especially during the time of COVID, hits disabled women/women of colour hardest, who are the majority reliant on support services; also disproportionately hits people of colour; women/people with high needs, and those of us who are both or all three.  The judgement in SH and MH v Norfolk County Council found that NCC’s increased charges discriminate against unwaged disabled people with high support needs who are charged disproportionately more from our disability benefits, compared to disabled people in waged work whose wages are protected. Many local authorities are taking disabled women’s whole care benefit amount in charges.

Sue Ferguson writes:

“Liverpool City Council (LCC) has the power to charge but is not obliged to charge by law.  You are targeting high needs disabled people because of the government cuts to local authority spending.   

LCC in 2012 raised the eligibility criteria of who could get services, to Critical and Substantial needs only.  These are the people that you will make pay for the shortfall in Council funding.  Morally, we find this reprehensible.

Within this cohort you will find a mixture of ages, disabilities, circumstances, etc.  

In 1996 when charging was introduced in Liverpool, I had to challenge the charging policy at that time through judicial review.  I challenged that my husband’s income was taken into account in assessing my ability to pay for my care, the lack of consultation and the fact that no account was taken of the costs involved with dealing with disability.  LCC was forced to concede before the High Court hearing, and this being agreed by the judge, it set a precedent that a partner’s income cannot be taken into account in the assessment.  Ever since then, this has protected all disabled women from relationship pressures and being forced into financial dependence on partners for this reason.

At the time I was 46 years of age.  I had one child just off to university and another planning to go to university the following year.  Luckily tuition fees were not required.  Fast forward to present day and the situation is very different.

There will be disabled people with young families who may be planning for their futures and that may involve saving to pay for tuition fees etc.  It can’t be morally right for LCC to seek to raise funds from people with assessed substantial and critical care needs to address the shortfall in LCC coffers.

The point about introducing charges for pets is particularly pernicious.  A person, especially an elderly and less mobile person will have a very strong attachment to a pet.  At a time of illness and anxiety you would be making the situation more anxious.  If a person has been assessed financially as not being in a position to contribute financially, you would be making a difficult situation even worse.  Is this morally right?” 

In addition to many thousands of preventable deaths and the fear and anxiety of COVID, the COVID measures have hit disabled women, men, family carers and children particularly hard, and increased charges come on top of:

  • The disruption or stoppage of Care Act social care and other services downgraded by the Coronavirus Act to no legal obligation to provide. 
  • The denial of medical supplies including ventilator filters for people who need breathing support, now diverted to the COVID effort. 
  • The denial of medical attention and treatment under “Do Not Attempt to Resuscitate” and the Clinical Frailty Score. 
  • Problems with access to food and no one to help prepare it. 
  • Increased disability expenses such as food delivery and transport costs when public transport is not an option. 
  • Lack of benefits due to longer waiting times and the switch to online claims and telephone interviews which are the excuse to deny needed benefits. 
  • Family carers have seen an enormous increase in workload but no recognition in a benefit increase.  The government has refused to increase low carer benefits by even £20 a week.  At the same time, family carers are impacted by increased charges which reduce the whole household income and many women have the added work of challenging the charges on behalf of the people they support.

Any increase in charges increases the number of people who drop out of services because the charges are unaffordable.  Women alone are living in squalid conditions, our health deteriorates without basic daily living help, or otherwise we have to turn to acquaintances who can turn abusive or even violent.  Women in couples face increased relationship pressures, dependency and risk of domestic violence.

The companionship of animals is not a luxury, they contribute to our wellbeing and often replace the companionship of people which we should be getting as well.  If low-income people are charged for pet care during a stay in hospital, they will give up much-loved pets if the charge is unaffordable.

Please take all these issues into account.

Sincerely,

Sue Ferguson                 Claire Glasman, WinVisible


From: Adult Services Consultation [mailto:adultservicesconsultation@liverpool.gov.uk]
Sent: Wednesday, December 16, 2020 10:13 AM

“In response to your request below to extend the consultation period regarding proposed changes to the Non-Residential Charging Policy, whilst we do consider that a sufficient period of time has been available to submit a response, we will extend the consultation period until the end of the day on 30th December 2020, to enable WinVisible to contribute towards this consultation.

We have already communicated with users of local services to seek their input to this consultation, as well as additionally communicating with anybody we had identified as potentially being affected by the proposal regarding the removal of the weekly cap.

As a consequence of extending the consultation period, Liverpool City Council will need to consider an alternative timetable in full. I have been able to identify the report on the findings will be submitted to Cabinet on 5th February 2021 for a decision as to whether to implement any of the proposed policy changes.

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