County council may charge some adults £50 for a social care assessment under new proposals

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Adults in need of care who earn more than £23,250 per year in savings and capital investments will need to pay for their assessment, Northamptonshire County Council papers reveal.

The measure - which is subject to a six-week consultation - proposes an administration charge for some of those in need of social care assessments, which could cost they or their family £50.

This comes after a stinging set of budget cuts, which were announced at County Hall last month following the authority published plans to make £66.9 million worth of savings over the next 12 months.

Carlo Salvatore of Northamptonshire Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) group said the charge is scandalous.

He said: “The assessments are unlikely to be user-led because of the council’s own methods of effectively rationing services and disabled people will be expected to pay for the privilege. It’s a scandal.

“If implemented, it is an extension of a wider culture of jumping through hoops, as happens with accessing benefits, for example, and comes on top of the unjust and unfair burden of the bedroom tax.

“We are continually forced to justify what we need and facing barriers.”

Mr Salvatore fears the measure would discourage people from having the assessment and seeking the care they need.

Finance chiefs at cash-strapped Northamptonshire County Council proposed another year of wide-ranging cuts, barely nine months after it was forced to cut its budget by £65 million.

Kat Bennett, from Kingsthorpe, who has a mental health condition, said: “I think what NCC are doing is cynical and abhorrent; it takes advantage of the fact that people, who by definition are vulnerable - many of them elderly - will likely be unaware of their rights. It’s predatory, frankly.

Mrs Bennett, who describes herself as an “NCC social care survivor” has spent time reading through consultation papers and claims the council is “flouting guidance” set by central Government.

“This means that NCC is proposing to flout guidance issued barely over a month ago and intends to charge people who they have no statutory right to charge,” she said.

However, Government guidelines state that ‘when choosing to charge, a local authority must not charge more than the cost that it incurs in meeting the assessed needs of the person.’

A Northamptonshire County Council spokesman said: “Adult social care services across the country are means-tested, which means people above a certain level of savings and investments are expected to contribute towards the cost of their care.

“Paid-for care services are only intended to help those who cannot help themselves.”