There have been plenty of occasions over the past few years where the Tories have been justly taken to task over their programme of cuts to social services in this country. The Daily Mirror has been the tabloid paper that has most consistently held the government up to scrutiny in this area.
However, an article on social care fees in the paper this week was a bit manipulative with the facts. In fact, it verged on Labour Party anti-Tory propaganda.
The article was titled ‘SICK AND DISABLED FORCED ‘TO PAY FOR OWN CARE ASSESSMENTS’ BY SHAMELESS TORY COUNCIL’ and raged at ‘plans by Tory-run Northamptonshire County Council to force people in need of social services to pay £50 for a needs assessment before they can access care’.
The paper quoted Labour MPs and campaigners from charities such as the Alzheimer’s Society on the issue.
However, the fee is means-tested and only applies to those with savings or assets above £23,250. Those with savings and assets below this amount won’t be charged.
This is consistent with the general social care fee structure across the whole country, under Labour-run councils as well as Tory ones. Unlike NHS healthcare, adult social care services are not universally free. Under the 2014 Care Act, those with savings and assets above £23,250 have to pay full care costs. Those with between £14,250 and £23,250 have to make some payment towards costs. Those with less than £14,250 are entitled to free care.
Assets include the property that you live in, if it is owned and nobody else lives there, which means that owner-occupiers living alone are currently eligible to pay full costs. The means-test threshold is due to rise to £118,000 in 2020.
Northamptonshire Council hasn’t brought in the £50 charge yet. The plans are undergoing a public consultation before a final decision is made next month.
So a council has asked the public whether it should include a £50 charge among its fees to those not eligible for local authority-provided social care. It’s up for debate whether or not this is a fair idea but it hardly qualifies them as ‘shameless’. Especially when compared to some of the other things the Tories have done since coming to power.
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