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Contributions Policy Frequently Asked Question

Changes to non-residential social care services in West Lothian have taken place following the introduction of a new Contributions Policy.

18 April
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The Policy covers all non-residential social care services, with the exception of free personal care and the Home Safety Service.

The introduction of the contributions policy means that some service users will have to make a financial contribution to the cost of their non-residential social care services.

The contribution will be worked out after a financial assessment has been undertaken. During this process, the council will support individuals in maximising their income through a personal income check, which will include ensuring people are claiming all the benefits that they are entitled to. It is estimated that there are over 500,000 cases of individuals or families in Scotland not claiming benefits that they are entitled to, with around a third of pensioners entitled to benefit but not claiming it.

The introduction of the contributions policy is based on COSLA Charging Guidance and reflects the principles of fairness, equality and transparency set out in the Guidance.   Like the vast majority of areas in Scotland, a contribution is now assessed on the basis of ability to pay so the impact of the contributions policy on individuals will be anything from zero right up to full cost of non-personal care and support services they receive.  Anyone that is asked to contribute towards the cost of their relevant  care services  has undergone a financial assessment and only those that are assessed as being able to make a contribution towards the cost of their care and support will have to do so. Many people do not have to contribute to the cost of their service and most service users will only contribute towards a proportion of their care costs that will vary depending on their financial circumstances.

Why am I now being charged more for the same service?

The council previously had a range of 'Charges' for different services but this was considered to be inconsistent/ outdated and did not cover all of the options now available for care delivery.    The council introduced a Contributions Policy in October 2018 which meant that everyone would be treated the same, no matter how their care is delivered.   The policy is based on the individual's ability to pay and is applied cover all non personal care delivered.   In some circumstances therefore where people have the means to contribute, they will be paying more.  Other people who do not have the means to contribute will be paying less.

Prior to the introduction of a Contributions Policy, service users were not asked to contribute toward the cost of their care. In certain situations, such as where older people day care was attended, a flat rate of £4.50 was requested at some centres but that was for lunch only.

Service users did not contribute towards the cost of the care service itself. For people in these circumstances, you may now be paying a higher charge which is based on the outcome of the financial assessment and reflects the contribution that can be made towards the cost of the day care placement, including transport.

Is West Lothian the only area affected?

No, in fact West Lothian's introduction of a Contributions Policy brings the council into line with the 27 out of 32 Scottish councils who have already have a contributions-based policy and charges in place.

Are WL residents paying more than elsewhere in Scotland?

In West Lothian contributions will still be lower than the majority of other council areas in Scotland and are expected to raise income of approximately 4% of the expenditure we incur on these services, compared to the Scottish average of approximately 7%.

Is the council making money from these contributions?

The Contributions Policy will generate income, but it's important to stress that this income is not enough to pay for the service.  In the majority of incidences, the council will continue to fund the majority of the total cost of services.

For example, if a client is asked to contribute a set amount of £46 per week, then that is what a financial assessment has determined that client can afford to contribute. It may be the case that the total cost of that client's care is £46 per week but it may also be the case that the cost of that client's care is £500 per week. No matter the cost of the service, the client's contribution of £46 would remain the same, with the council subsidising the remaining cost of the service.

The contribution is based solely on an individual client's ability to afford the contribution rather than the cost of individual elements of care.

In some cases, clients will be paying the full cost of their chargeable care and support, in the majority of cases however they will be paying a proportion of their chargeable care costs with the council continuing to subsidise the majority of the costs. It all depends on how much they can afford to pay and that is determined through the financial assessment.

Are all service users having to pay?

No, many service users will not have to contribute following a financial assessment.

What if I or my family member can't afford to pay?

Only those that are assessed as being able to make a contribution towards the cost of their care and support will have to do so.

What can I do if I want to challenge the outcome of the financial assessment?

If the concern relates purely to the outcome of the financial assessment e.g. correct process not followed or incorrect amounts applied, the revenues service will be happy to review. The team can be contacted on 01506 280000 (option 2 of the menu).

What can I do if I believe that paying the contribution will lead to financial hardship?

If it is felt that the assessed contribution will cause undue financial hardship, a review can be requested either by contacting West Lothian Council Advice Shop on 01506 283000 or the Social Work Team by phone on 01506 284848 or by e-mail at adultsocialcare@westlothian.gov.uk

Why have you introduced a Contributions Policy?

A wide range of measures are being made to services to ensure that we can balance our budget. Over the next four years, the council faces a budget gap of over £51million as a result of Scottish Government grant funding not being sufficient to meet increased costs faced by the council. Savings of £15million will be made in 2019/20. The council is expected to have delivered nearly £157 million of savings between 2007/2008 and March 2023. 

The council receives 80% of its funding from the Scottish Government, and the funding we receive from is not sufficient to meet the drastic rise in demand for adult social care services locally.

Further pressures are being placed on council services due to changes in demographics. Between 2018/19 and 2022/23 the number of people aged over 75 living in West Lothian will have increased by approximately 25% and the demand for social care services will grow significantly.

In response to this challenge the council launched a large scale consultation in relation to Budget measures, Priorities and Council Tax.  Known as 'Transforming Your Council, this consultation attracted 45,463 comments and suggestions with over 7,000 individual submissions.   The analysis of the feedback informed the shaping of the council's three year budget which was set early in 2018. 

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