25 signatures reached
To: Oxfordshire County Council c/o Leader of the Council Cllr. Liz Leffman
Unfair Charges: Review Oxfordshire County Council Adult Social Care Contributions Policy
We request an urgent review of Oxfordshire County Council's Adult Social Care Contributions Policy.
We appeal to Councillors at the full Council Meeting to respect the rights of Oxfordshire residents with Learning Disabilities to be treated fairly and for support to protect their income from unaffordable contributions charges.
The review must ensure:
That implementation of the Contributions Policy via the Financial Assessment process is not discriminatory and unfair.
For greater use of the Council's discretionary powers pertaining decisions on Disability Related Expenditure (DRE) to allow for a wider range of household expenses and activities to be included - in line with the Wellbeing Principal of the Care Act (2014).
The eligibility criteria for the Council's Waiver Scheme to be redefined to allow people solely in receipt of DWP income and disability premiums to be made exempt from Contribution charges, so as to prevent financial hardship and the emotional distress caused by the threat of debit recovery action against vulnerable adults, who are unable to manage their financial affairs, and rely on their carers to advocate on their behalf.
Why is this important?
Following a contentious policy consultation exercise, with the stated aim to increase income stream revenue by £1.9m annually for the Council from vulnerable and disabled people liable to contribute towards the cost of the services they receive. Oxfordshire County Council revised and implemented its unfair Adult Social Care Contributions Policy in October 2018.
This Policy change affected approximately 5,000 Oxfordshire residents. However, as the demand for adult social care rises, this policy continues to disproportionately impact and target the significantly large group of people with Learning Disabilities as a source of revenue.
Based on the Council’s own statistics from a Performance Scrutiny committee report in 2019, that stated 39% were affected by increased costs following the recalculation of their contributions. This equates to at least 2,000 people who saw sudden increases in the weekly charges that they are expected to pay Oxfordshire County Council towards the cost of essential support and care services at home or in the community (known as non-residential care for financial assessment purposes).
The increase in weekly contributions charges is mainly caused by the contentious 25% allowance for Disability Related Expenditure (DRE) which has proven to be an inappropriate method for calculating DRE in the vast majority of cases for people with Learning Disabilities, because this group of people do not tend to challenge decisions or request an individual financial reassessment.
As a consequence of this unfair and poorly implemented policy, people with disabilities, who are reliant on the DWP benefits system and are by definition already on the lowest incomes, find the contribution charges levied on them unaffordable and detrimental to their social and economic wellbeing. Because it reduces an individual’s weekly income and restricts spending choices on disability related daily living activities, essential household costs and expenses - contrary to the Wellbeing Principal of the Care act 2014.
**N.B. Section number 75 of Oxfordshire County Council's Adult Social Care Contributions Policy (2018) states: "The policy will be reviewed regularly. This will take into account learning from complaints... and concerns, including from people who use the council’s services".
**To that end, any Council responses along the lines that it is acting according to Government guidelines, the policy was previously fully consulted, or the policy is in line with other Local Authorities across England - will not be considered acceptable if it is to honour the aforementioned pledge.
How it will be delivered
We, the undersigned, request that Oxfordshire County Council's Adult Social Care Contributions Policy (2018) be reviewed. The signatures will be used to present a petition to Oxfordshire County Council.