Extra funding to help councils meet £50-a-week care cap in Wales
The Health Minister and Deputy Minister for Social Services have agreed to provide an additional £3.2 million a year to local authorities in Wales to ensure that the £50-a-week cap on home care charges remains sustainable for the future.
As part of the implementation of the cap, local authorities were asked to estimate how much they thought they would incur in costs as a direct consequence of its introduction. At that time authorities estimated this to be £10.1 million per year, which the Welsh Government provided to support its introduction.
A monitoring exercise uncovered authorities were reporting costs exceeding their predictions. This was due to inflation and changes to welfare benefits since the cap's introduction by the Deputy Minister in April 2011. It was also due to all authorities reporting an increase in the number of people receiving services for which a charge could be levied.
The Deputy Minister for Social Services, Gwenda Thomas said:
"The £50-a-week cap on home care charges has been warmly welcomed. It provides assurance to vulnerable service users, who rely on home care and other non-residential social services to help meet their daily living needs, of the maximum they would be asked to pay, wherever they live in Wales.
"I am conscious, as I am sure local government is, of ensuring that our First Steps Improvement Package - of which the cap was part - remains sustainable and does not become an untenable financial pressure on local authorities. The Health Minister and I are providing additional funding to ensure this does not occur.
"The £50 maximum charge has now been set for over two years with over 5,250 service users a year benefitting, around 30% of those charged. During this time, however, inflation has affected the cost of service provision, while greater demand for services and changes in welfare benefits have also increased costs for local authorities in operating the cap on fees.
"It is inevitable that at some point the maximum level should be reset and I intend to revise the weekly maximum charge from April 2014 to take account of changes since its introduction, including inflation. I also intend to consider the wider impact and level of the maximum charge from April 2015 to ensure it remains sustainable in the longer term.
"I hope this will assure service users and local authorities of the Welsh Government's commitment to maintaining a maximum weekly charge for home care and other non-residential social services.”