South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has called on the local Labour administration to explain their failure to consult local people with disabilities on drastic increases to care charges.
Ms McAlpine’s comments came in support of a letter sent to the social work department by Alistair Livingston, whose disabled son Callum’s contribution to care costs will rise by over 500% per week.
Alistair Livingston points out in his letter that there is a 2015 Impact Assessment to the Social Work Services Committee which states ‘This policy was developed through consultation between relevant council departments and services.’ There is, however, no mention of consultation with “service users” i.e people with disabilities. The report later notes ‘Action is required to promote service user understanding of the policy and its wider impact and by consulting with those who may be impacted upon in this way,’ with a timescale of March/April 2015.
Ms McAlpine said:
“I fully back my constituents’ calls for answers on the failure by the council to consult on these drastic increases to care charging.
“What we don’t know is whether any people with disabilities were ever consulted. Certainly none of my constituents have participated in any consultation – the increase to their charges has come completely out of the blue.”
Ms McAlpine has been campaigning for the charges to be reversed after being contacted by a growing number of constituents who are facing crisis as a result of the increases.
“Disabled people in Dumfries and Galloway faced massive care charge rises after the council reduced the threshold at which the start paying charges from £177 a week to £132.
“There are 536 disabled people affected by the changes, and I have constituents telling me they are facing real hardship as a result of these increases to care charges.”
Ms McAlpine has previously hit out at the council who have reduced the threshold, despite the Scottish Government allocating money to councils to reduce charges. In January the Cabinet Secretary announced that £6 million of the £250 million allocated for social care was intended to reduce the charging burden or so-called “care tax” on disabled people. Health secretary Shona Robison has subsequently told parliament she is “disappointed that Dumfries and Galloway has chosen to reduce the threshold for social care charges.”