Care charge hike to save £3m will hit people with learning disabilities, say Norfolk families

Bill Borrett, chairman of Norfolk County Council's adult social services committee Photo: Bill Borre

Bill Borrett, chairman of Norfolk County Council's adult social services committee Photo: Bill Borrett - Credit: Archant

Families of people with learning disabilities have blasted a cost-cutting proposal which would save council bosses £3m - by charging thousands of people more for their care.

Norfolk County Council, has mooted changes to its charging policy for adult social care in next year's budget.

If approved, it would see changes to how people are charged for non-residential care, such as day services.

And families of people with learning disabilities who could be affected say that is not fair.

The proposal will change the 'minimum income guarantee' the council uses to assess how much people aged 18 to 64 pay for care.

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At the moment, the council uses a rate of £189 a week for everyone, but wants to change that to £123.45 for those aged 18 to 24 and £151.45 a week for those aged 25 to 64.

Proposals would also see a benefit - the enhanced element of personal independence payments (PIP) - taken into account when assessing care.

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The combined effects could lead to about 1,000 people having to pay more for their care and about 1,400 people could have to start paying for care for the first time.

The council needs to save £79m over the next three years and figure out how to plug a further £46m gap. But families of people who have learning disabilities say they will be unfairly affected by charging policy changes.

Judith Taylor, of Mill Street in Buxton, said the proposals contravene the care act and could see her 28-year-old son losing out on £67 a week.

Mrs Taylor, whose son suffers from Down's syndrome, said: 'My son's current payments allow him to live a life outside of the home - he pays to work at Thornage Hall and takes part in other things that mean he can have a social life. Losing out would have a devastating impact on his life.'

Bill Borrett, chairman of the council's adult social care committee, said the savings were being proposed in a 'challenging financial environment'.

He said: 'The committee appreciates that everyone's financial circumstances are different and that any change can be unsettling, so the council will be supporting people on a one-to-one basis.

'There are more opportunities than ever before for people with disabilities to live independently thanks to changes in technology and support. Our proposal to invest £1m to help more people find the jobs and training they want is designed to help them achieve those aspirations.'

The consultation closed on Sunday, December 23.

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