Care charges could raised by cash-strapped council

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Disabled people will have to pay more to cover the cost of home visits from care workers under budget plans by cash-strapped Wakefield Council.

More than 1,000 people would have to pay up to £27 a week more if changes to the council’s charging policy go ahead.

Council bosses are proposing to change the way they calculate how much public funding users of adult care services are allocated.

They could also remove a weekly cap on the cost of non-residential home care.

Cost savings are being drawn up because of multi-million pound cuts to the council’s budget and rising demand for care services.

A report to the council’s cabinet said 1,300 people would continue to pay nothing for social care if the changes go ahead.

But just over 1,000 people “will be negatively affected and will have an increased financial assessment contribution towards care services between £1 and £27 per week,” the report said.

The move could bring the council new income of around £1m a year.

Latest figures show demand for social care is rising at around five per cent every year and currently costs Wakefield £140m annual.

And it is forecast that social care could take up the council’s entire budget in five years’ time under a budget scenario known as the “graph of doom.”

The government allowed local authorities to add two per cent to council tax bills to help cover the costs - but that will still leave Wakefield with a £20m funding gap in five years.

The cabinet report said nobody would be made to pay more than their financial assessment says they can afford. It recommends that the council launched a six-week consultation on the possible changes.

Coun Pat Garbutt, the council’s cabinet member for adults and health, said: “The growing demand for adult social care means that changes have to be made.

“To continue as we are is simply not an option. We have a duty to provide social care services for the district’s vulnerable adults, and to sustain this we must do things differently.

“At this stage these are only proposals and no decision has been made, so it is essential that people use the consultation to feedback and tell us what they think.”