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Healthwatch delighted as County Council scraps proposed increase to social care charges


Cambridgeshire County Council’s Adults Committee yesterday rejected proposals to increase contributions for people receiving social care.

Healthwatch Cambridgeshire raised concerns about the Fairer Contributions Policy changes proposed by the Council as they would have disproportionately affected vulnerable people who are already experiencing financial pressures.

More than 300 people responded to the Council's consultation in February, including a letter from us. 

  • Over 80% of people disagreed with the proposal to allow the Financial Assessment Team to take into account the Enhanced Rate of Personal Independence Payment.
  • Over 70% of people disagreed with the Council’s proposal to enable the Financial Assessment Team to assess individuals who receive short term respite accommodation under residential rules.
  • Over 60% of people disagreed with the Council’s proposal to apply a charge for the appointee function for all service users who have capital above £1,000. Currently there is no charge for this non-statutory function.

Comments from the people who took the time to respond painted a very stark picture:

‘No I do not agree to this! This money is given to me to help me live with my disability, so that I can buy the equipment and disposable items I need on a day to day basis. The help I receive from the county council is for my care and does not cover these expenses. If you were to take this money away from me I would no longer be able to live at home and would end up in a care home.’

Another said, ‘This amount is far too great an increase. This will put pressure on carers who will feel they cannot afford to put someone into respite. As it is short stay that means they still have a house to run with bills etc. The savings to social services will be short sighted when they then have to have someone in permanent care.’

These three proposals were rejected by the Councillors. A fourth proposal, to make direct debits the default payment for invoices, was accepted by the Council. 

Sandie Smith, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Healthwatch Cambridgeshire, attended the Council’s meeting alongside Sarah Conboy, CEO of Pinpoint, and Miriam Martin, CEO of the Carers Trust. Sarah and Miriam both spoke at the meeting to explain how carers are already under pressure from reductions in services and benefit entitlements.

Sandie said, ‘We are delighted that the Committee saw how unfair these proposals were and that the increases would have fallen on the most disadvantaged people in our community.’

‘We want to thank everyone who took the time to respond to the Council’s consultation, as well as our colleagues from Pinpoint, the Carers Trust and the wider voluntary sector for encouraging people to have their say and championing people’s concerns.’

‘It can be very easy for people to be disheartened when a consultation like this comes along and think that their voice won’t change anything, that they cannot make a difference. Today, we can see the difference that speaking up can make.’

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