Wycombe Labour today welcomed Bucks County Council’s commitment to independent living for disabled people and its assurance that the transfer of responsibility for ensuring disabled people can live independent lives is going smoothly.
However, Wycombe Labour wonders if BCC is as committed as it says – and whether things are going as well as made out.
The Government closed the Independent Living Fund on 1 July, transferring the responsibility and some funding to local authorities. The decision by the Government to close ILF down was challenged through the courts but the Government has gone ahead anyway.
Councillor Ahmed, Labour’s Councillor for Disraeli, said, “I read BCC’s statements with some surprise. It would be good if it was true but is everything going as well as they say?
We know that many disabled people are unable or unwilling to speak out publicly about problems they may be having with statutory bodies like BCC.
However, I am aware of at least one parent - the father of a severely disabled young woman funded up to now by the ILF - who has not been consulted about the changes as BCC said had happened. He also said his daughter had not been re- assessed in the last three months as claimed by BCC.
Moreover, the family has no idea how much funding his daughter will receive from BCC or when.
BCC also say that cuts are not taking place. This is simply not true.
The government has cut the amount of ILF funding in transferring it to local authorities from £300 million to £262 million. It will cut the funding by 5% each year from then on.
If BCC is saying that it will protect disabled people from the effect of these cuts, then that means that other services will be cut, including perhaps funding to other vulnerable people.
It is noticeable that BCC does not say how much money it is getting from the Government for independent living needs – and how much it will need to provide to meet those needs.”
Robin Stuchbury, Labour’s Councillor on BCC, said “I asked BCC a series of questions about the arrangements for transferring ILF money to local authorities because this issue is a major concern to disabled people.
I am making BCC’s response public so that disabled people can see what should be happening and see what BCC has committed to. They can then compare that with what is happening in their own case.
I am also asking how much money BCC will get from the Government to meet these needs and how much it estimates it will cost BCC.
I hope everything is going well for the transfer and I would urge BCC to provide information about the transfer of ILF responsibilities and funding on their website.”
The full response by BCC is attached.
Response by BCC
What will the effect be on Buckinghamshire people with the cut to the independent living fund?
The government decided to close the ILF and hand funds over to local authorities on the 1st of July 2015. This decision was challenged by People with disabilities and by organisations supporting them. The decision was halted for period of time in 2014 and taken to court, but following a high court ruling, it was agreed that the decision will go ahead.
Buckinghamshire has 81 ILF service users. We liaised with the ILF and all service users throughout the planned period of closure and recently held two communication days with service users to discuss any concerns they may have and to provide information as to how Buckinghamshire will be managing the transfer.
We agreed to allow a three month period to review service users and to communicate with them to arrange a smooth transfer of funds to the local authority and into their accounts by the 1st of July 2015. This was to allow sufficient time to carry out assessments appropriately, ensuring a individual based outcome for all service users. During the period April 2015 to end of June 2015, all service users received an individual needs assessment and care plans are being agreed based on individual need of each service user rather than make a "blanket" decision to transfer existing amounts of ILF monies. We believe this is Care Act compliant and allows the local authority to meet individual needs appropriately and safely.
This approach means that some service users may find a reduction in their care provision, but others will receive an increase in care provision as it is based on an individual needs assessment at the time of assessment. Although the LA has a RAS (resource allocation system) this is only an indicative budget and most ILF users fall over and above the RAS. The CFC (Care funding calculator) was used to support our needs assessment as this allows for an indicative needs assessment for complex needs. The majority of our ILF users came out above the RAS, within the CFC and within or
over the joint ILF/LA funding quota which is being transferred to the LA on the 1st of July. In some instances this has created a financial pressure for the LA, rather than a "surplus" of funds being available. We believe this a an equitable way of meeting each individual need safely and appropriately.
Service users have had regular contact with their social workers and with senior management throughout the period and very few concerns have been raised by individual service users. We have also been liaising with service user and carer
groups throughout the period to keep them informed.
What plans has the council undertaken to support people who have support removed?
None of the 81 service users had support removed. As explained in question 1, all service users had an individual needs assessed and outcome based assessment. This is the same process we apply to all service users approaching the local authority for an assessment and care plans will be finalised based on individual assessment. Any adjustment within care provision would have been as a result of the individual assessment. Care Act eligibility criteria has been applied to each individual assessment and according to each individual's needs which will vary from another service user. Very few care provision have been reduced and quite a few has increased following the needs assessment. Quite a few live in care providers have increased their prices significantly, creating an increase in the care provision, despite the existing care provision only being transferred from the ILF to LA.
What increased cost will this bring to the local authority in meeting high demand with reducing support for disabled people?
As explained in Questions 1 and 2, cost has not been the deciding factor in assessing the ILF service users. Service users were assessed based on need and cost for their care provision has been calculated according to that individual need. In some instances, the care provision has increased and in a few examples, the care provision has reduced based on individual needs.
The ILF will transfer existing funds to the LA on the 1st of July. Where following an individual needs assessment, the cost has increased, the ILF will not increase their transfer to the LA, resulting in a financial pressure on the LA budget for 2015. We found following assessment that where any reduction applied, this was minimal. ILF service users used to pay a client contribution to the ILF based on the service user and carer income. The LA will only assess the income of the service user, not the carer, resulting in a reduction for ILF service users in paying client contribution to the LA. ILF will transfer to the LA on the 1st of July 2015 and continue at an attrition rate of 5% per year. The needs of some users may increase, but others may become eligible for Continuing Health care based on individual assessment. All service users will receive a six weeks review following the transfer of monies and again annually or if and when there is a change of individual need.
No support for disabled people will be reduced unless an individual based assessment of need necessitates this. There is no generic or blanket decision for the disabled service users of Buckinghamshire, but instead all service users have received an individual assessment of need.
With Buckinghamshire being the home of the disability Olympics will Buckinghamshire be making strong representation to government -
A To ask that this cut is not taken forward,
As I mentioned at the start of my response, the decision to close the ILF has been a decision from central government, in liaison with all disable people (through consultation with the ILF) and the courts. This is not a decision that BCC can
influence. It is not a correct assumption that there are cuts taken place. As explained, each service users received an assessment based on needs and the outcomes for care provision was based on need and not any decisions from the ILF or monetary allocation of funds. No service users received a total "cut" in funds, and most service users will receive the same or a higher allocation of funds based on their individual needs assessment.
B To make a public stand against the removing of the independent living fund
The removal of the ILF is a central government decisions and not one BCC is able to influence. We can only carry out assessment based on Care Act compliant individual needs based assessment and support service users and staff accordingly.
Buckinghamshire county council wrote to all service users and held information days regarding our plans for managing the ILF resource and the plans for individual service users. We held two information days and invited service users and carers to come and discuss any concerns. We had positive feedback regarding our communication with service users on that day. Social work and management/senior management staff have been available to all ILF service users for phone discussions
or meetings if service users requested it. We have had a consistent quota of experienced staff carrying out ILF assessment who were able to answer queries and manage a smooth transfer of funds and care to individual service users based on
need. There has been very little concerns from service users and on the whole staff were able to relay any concerns and support service users accordingly.
Does Buckinghamshire County Council support the human rights act regarding the right for disabled people to live a independent live?
Buckinghamshire county council absolutely support the Human rights act and the need for disabled service users to live an independent life. This is demonstrated by the fact that we carried out individual needs based assessments for all 81 service users and agreed outcomes based on individual needs and care needs. This is the same principle we apply to all other service users whether younger or older adults. We understand that younger adult service users in particular, have a need to remain living independently at home and in the community rather than accept nursing care where, the majority of service users, tend to be older. There are care provision for younger people in nursing home establishments or those who would like to choose this provision to meet their care needs, but this is agreed with individual service users based on their assessment of need and choice. ILF service users have choice and control over their care provision and our recent assessment of 81 service users have allowed those service users to maintain their existing care arrangements by large. We recognised that quite a few ILF service users had PA's and carers that have been with them for a long time and who were meeting their needs appropriately. Where possible, we have tried to honour those agreements with service users.
Care needs will be reviewed in six weeks and then annually unless there is a change that necessitates a review at a different time.