Notice Invoking the Call-in.
At its meeting on 14 December 2006, the Cabinet had received a report of the Director of Adult Community Care, which summarised the feedback from public consultation on the proposed merger of Anmer Lodge and Milmans Day Centres, changes to Home Care charges, the re-provision of services currently provided by Wiseworks and Direct Payments.
In relation to Home Care charges, Cabinet had resolved to reduce the level of subsidy, increase the hourly rate and increase the new level cap to £250. A call?in notice was subsequently received, calling in the decision and this decision had therefore been referred to the Call-in Sub-Committee for consideration under the call?in procedure. The decision had been called in on the grounds that the action was not proportionate to the desired outcome.
The Sub-Committee received the Cabinet report of 14 December 2006, the relevant extract from the Cabinet minutes, and the Call?in notice.
Responding to the issues raised in the call-in notice, the Portfolio Holder for Adult Community Care Services and Issues Facing People with Special Needs made the following points:-
- The decision was made to make financial savings but in the context of every other department within the Council.
- The alternative was to reduce the service dramatically as opposed to increasing the charges for those that could afford it.
- Every user would be individually assessed. If they refused the assessment then they would be supplied with a list of locally approved and registered service providers. Those assessed would pay only if they had sufficient funds.
- The Authority had a statutory duty to respond to eligible needs.
- The decision was not disproportionate.
A Member representing the signatories to the Call-in notice commented as follows:-
- The reduction of the home care subsidy hourly rate should have been made in steady increments and was unbalanced against the most vulnerable.
- Although other boroughs’ rates were higher, the fee could have been recouped by renegotiating contracts.
- The hourly increase would affect service users and damage the service.
- The new cap level of £250 for the maximum assessed was not sustainable.
- Users of the service would be forced to use up their savings and either reduce their take up of their service or withdraw from it, thereby placing them at risk.
- Once users had used up an element of their savings, the Authority would have to subsidise their care package, which was considered to be a false economy.
- The decision needed to be reconsidered.
- How many service users had savings of £21,000 and what system users would use to notify the department that their funds had depleted to £21,000?
The Director of Adult Community Care Services responded as follows:-
- Assessments had not yet been carried out due to the call-in received;.
- The number of services users with levels of savings of £21,000 would be provided, once assessments had been carried out.
- It was the responsibility of service users and domiciliary care workers to notify the department within a period of three months, that the service user’s savings had diminished to £21,000. Procedures were in place and would be reviewed with a view to changing the notification period to six months.
- The new level of cap was in line with performance indicators.
Members of the Sub-Committee, having considered all the evidence, summarised their views relating to the grounds for call-in. Based on the written and oral submissions, and having been put to a vote, it was;
RESOLVED: That the grounds for the call-in be rejected and the decision of the Cabinet on 14 December 2006 to the proposed changes to Home Care Charges be implemented.