Devon County Council (DCC) asked Healthwatch Devon through the Engagement Gateway to undertake a piece of work to carry out a consultation about how DCC charge for adult social care community services.
They have been thinking about changing the way they work out how much people pay towards the cost of their community services. They wanted to consider everyone’s views before making any decision about any changes.
Devon currently allows higher amounts for disability related expenditure than other local authorities. The council have been considering changing their approach so that they are more consistent with other local authorities.
If as a result of the consultation the council makes a decision to amend its charging approach, no changes will be made until after a person’s next financial assessment.
As part of the consultation the council also asked whether people feel that any increase in charge should be made gradually.
DCC wanted to know what people thought about the following:
- How the council should work out how much a person pays towards their community services.
- Of the things people buy from their own money because of their disability or illness, which are most important
- How the council should introduce any changes
What we did
The Consultation ran from the 1st February 2016 to 25th March 2016 (8 weeks)
The Questionnaire and accompanying documents were sent out in hard copy to approximately 7,600 individuals currently receiving Social Adult Care.
Where appropriate these documents were sent out in easy read format. The questionnaire and papers were also available via the Healthwatch Devon Website.
Over the 8 week consultation period a total of 1,888 responses were received, making up 24.8% of the consulted population of 7,600. This is a very significant response rate giving a confidence level of over 95% and a margin of error of 2%. This sample provides DCC with a statistically reliable response on which to base any decisions.
Of the 1,888 responses 1,729 (91.6%) were in hard copy, 159 (8.4%) were online.
DCC dealt with approximately 500 requests for additional support and provided face to face advocacy to approximately 40 people to enable them to complete the consultation.
- Overwhelming agreement (86%) with the proposed rules for how much a person pays towards their adult social care community services.
- The most important disability related expenditures were identified as: 1st Paid for domestic help, 2nd Transport e.g. buses and taxis, 3rd Home maintenance, 4th Laundry of clothes and linens, and 5th Additional personal care.
- The majority of respondents (77%) felt that any potential increased payment should be paid gradually.
- 2,791 comments were submitted reflecting a range of views and ranging from practical feedback to strong emotional feelings brought about by the consultation and possible future changes.
It should be noted that a lot of comment was not relevant to the actual possible change and consultation – possibly an indication of the complexity of the subject and/or the understanding of the documentation
A very significant proportion of submissions expressed no real sentiment beyond answering the fixed questions.
Organisational responses to the consultation can be found here:
Devon County Council Response.
On 11th March 2016 the Government announced plans to change the assessment of Personal Independence Payments (PIP). This is one of the disability incomes that the council takes into account when considering a person’s total income. At the time of writing there is uncertainty about whether these or other national changes will be applied.
As a result of this national uncertainty, the county council cannot currently meaningfully assess the impact to people of any changes to its local financial assessment approach. To do so will require clarity about national plans for disability income.
In light of these circumstances and in order to reduce anxiety, the council has decided to postpone any decision about a change to its approach to charging until a time when there is clarity about any national changes to disability benefits.
Read the full Devon County Council Response to the consultation.