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New law to cap care charges to £50

07 July 2009

Carers Wales has fought for free home care for many years and has been part of the Coalition on Charging Cymru, (COCC) a consortium of voluntary organisations representing the interests of older people, disabled people and carers.

 

The aim of COCC is to raise awareness of the effects of charging for community care services on older people, disabled people and carers and is opposed to any charging for non-residential community based services in Wales.

The price many of you pay for non-residential personal care at home and day centres currently varies widely between local councils across Wales. Councils are currently able to set the level they charge themselves. This has led to a huge variation across Wales with some council's charging a lot more for these services than others, in effect a charging postcode lottery depending on where you live.

Having failed to introduce free home care for everyone in the second Assembly term, the Assembly Government's "One Wales" document made a commitment during its current term to seek the powers to bring forward legislation to address the variation in charges.

The National Assembly for Wales gained the power to legislate in 2008, and a new law on charging (called a Measure) is now being sought to ensure that individuals are treated equally wherever they live. The Welsh Assembly Government set up a Task and Finish Group and the Coalition was involved with other stakeholders to consider the best way forward.

The aim of the law will be to set a maximum weekly charge of £50 per week for non-residential care (which includes home care, day care, transport to day care and meals and support for carers) across all authorities. The aim is to ensure that charging for services is fairer for everyone and is broadly consistent across all councils in Wales.

The proposal will face further scrutiny by the National Assembly for Wales with the aim of a new law being in force by July 2010.

Carers Wales and other members of the Coalition on Charging have had an informal meeting with the Deputy Minister prior to the scrutiny process and have raised some initial concerns. One concern is that the proposed Measure may actually encourage councils to raise their fees to meet the maximum level of the cap. We will continue to be involved in the process and will push to fight for a fair deal for disabled people and carers. More information can be found on the National Assembly for Wales website.

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