The Radio 4 “Today” programme is running a ‘Christmas Repeal’ where they are asking listeners to write in or email suggestions of any laws that listeners feel should be repealed. A panel of politicians and legislation experts will shortlist six suggestions which will then be put to the public vote.
Jim Elder Woodward, Director of Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living, suggests that there should be an end to community care charging and suggests that if enough people draw the panel’s attention to the unfair policy, it may be put on the short list and then it will be featured on the ‘Today’ programme.
The legislation that needs to be repealed is section 17 of the Health and Social Services and Social Security Adjudications Act 1983 which states authorities may make reasonable charges for domiciliary services.
It is important to note that this legislation in no way insists that local authorities charge for these services, however all local authorities do now charge for at least some domiciliary services. The effect of this is that thousands of disabled people and older people are being charged simply because they may need support with basic living tasks, such as dressing and washing.
Following many complaints regarding the variety and complexity of charging policies being adopted by local authorities, the Department of Health issued statutory guidance in 2003 called ‘Fairer Charging Policies for Home Care and other non-residential Social Services: Guidance for Councils with Social Services Responsibilities’
This guidance was meant to ensure that if local authorities chose to charge, that it was done in a fair and equitable way, however this guidance has only encouraged more local authorities to introduce or extend charging, using the ‘equity’ argument.
Local authorities tend to argue that the amount of funding they receive from central government is calculated on the assumption that they will receive revenue from charging, so they have to continue charging. Central government argue that it is up to local authorities whether they charge, so there is nothing they can do. Whilst central and local government blame each other, it is Disabled People who pay the highest price for this immoral legislation.
So, this Christmas, instead of sticking some change in a charity tin, lend your support to our campaign to get community care charging repealed by adding your voice to the ‘Christmas Repeal’.