Under-pressure council looks at raising cost of community care challenge

Members of Calderdale Council's Cabinet are to discuss proposed increases in charges for community care when it meets on January 10.

Councillors will be asked to approve a range of changes to its Fairer Charging Policy intended to ensure that charges are fair and based on people's ability to pay for them.

Pressure on health and social care budgets, coupled with a reduction in money central government gives to councils, means that Calderdale will need to increase the income it receives through charging for a range of community care services.

Among the changes being considered are: changing the way in which people's savings and capital are taken into account, increasing the maximum charge to 150 per week from April 2011 and 200 per week from April 2012 and increasing flat rate charges for meals by 29p per meal and the Careline Service by 38p per week in 2011/12.

These and other proposals will raise additional income after allowing for inflation of 480,000 in 2011/12.

Calderdale Council's adults health and social care portfolio holder, Coun Bob Metcalfe, said nobody wants to increase charges for community care.

However, "the harsh reality" was that Calderdale Adult Social Care faced massive financial challenges and pressures from increased demand.

"Calderdale's Fairer Charging Policy has not been fully reviewed for over eight years and compared to other West Yorkshire Councils the charges are, in many cases, much less.

"Currently more than two thirds of service users receiving community-based services do not pay a charge. We also need to ensure that where we make charges, they are based on people's ability to pay.

"For those people liable to pay maximum charges, we will try to minimise the impact by phasing in any increases over two years."

It is proposed that the changes will be implemented from April.