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  • Writer's pictureCharli Thompson

Social care charging must end: But beware its evil twin

The Scrap Care Charging campaign is at full steam across the UK as people share their horror stories about being forced into debt, some having to give up essential care they simply can’t afford and others skipping meals in order to pay their charges. It really is a dystopian nightmare and there is no doubt that social care charging is a tax on frailty, illness and impairment. It must end.

But we must also make sure we ask the important question...

Without the income from charging how will councils secure funding?

With the system as it is, it would be simple for councils to fix one wrong against older and disabled people by exacerbating another. So we must be vigilant!

Councils never spend more or less than their budgets, (bar marginal fluctuations) no matter how much or little they have in the bank; whilst at the same time saying they meet all eligible needs in communities. If this seems too good to be true, that’s because it is!

Part 2 of The Campaign for Real Care’s report Unveiling the Truth exposes how councils across the country are using the ‘get out clause’ provided by the government's guidance to the 2014 Care Act in order to flout the act and continue practices that pre-date it.

There are powerful professional and political interests being served at the expense of older and disabled people, whose needs are being limited to fit available budgets; all hidden behind the ‘eligibility’ process.

This has HUGE implications for councils under threat of losing income and would provide a convenient escape route. In fact it already does. Councils are making cuts to budgets and trying to pass 'Fair & Affordable' policies in order to legitimise this. This happened in Barnet in 2019 and it's currently happening in Bristol.

This is all symptomatic of a toxic culture that places resource before need, and which calibrates need to fit whatever budget a council happens to have. Lost funding can be conveniently 'found' by reducing care hours or cutting specific provisions, all whilst still claiming no unmet need!

Therefore, what must happen is a tandem approach. Yes, care charging should be scrapped, BUT with a non-negotiable caveat. First, ALL needs for wellbeing must be identified, recorded and costed with a clear and transparent plan for obtaining increased alternative funding to meet unmet needs, or we’ll be robbing Peter to pay Paul.

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