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More MS news articles for October 2002

Guideline worries

1 Oct, 2002

Government guidelines intended to lead to fairer charges for home care services for disabled and older people are instead causing widespread confusion.

One local authority, Buckinghamshire County Council (BCC), is increasing its maximum charges for those with more than £19,000 savings from £44 to £280 a week.

But others have raised their maximum charges for disabled and older people with higher levels of savings by just a few pounds.

Health minister Jacqui Smith issued the guidance last November in a bid to eliminate the “huge variations” in charges between councils across England and Wales.

All local authorities must introduce their new charges by next April, but are already no longer able to take earnings into account in charging for the services.

A BCC spokeswoman defended its new charges. “Some will be paying more, but a great majority will be paying a lot less,” she said.

“I don’t think Bucks is particularly unusual or out of step with other counties.”

But Richard Holmes, chair of the Coalition On Charging, an umbrella organisation of about 200 charities, said: “A very confused picture is emerging.

“It seems to be becoming more clear that differences are occurring that were not anticipated. It clearly isn’t fair.”

The coalition plans to present its evidence to the Department of Health (DoH).

A DoH spokesman said the government did not yet know what local authorities were charging. He said: “If there is huge variation, it would be a concern.”

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