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Kent County Council plans to change how social care costs for disabled people are calculated

Proposed changes to social care costs could be “devastating” for disabled people and their families, according to a leading charity.

Campaigners say more than 15,000 residents may find their financial stability threatened under the plans.

Thousands of people living with disabilities could be affected. Stock image
Thousands of people living with disabilities could be affected. Stock image

It comes as Kent County Council (KCC) considers changes to how it calculates contributions towards care costs.

Disability Assist says incorporating higher or enhanced Attendance Allowance (AA), Personal Independent Payment (PIP) and Disability Living Allowance (DLA) into income calculations for such expenses could leave the vulnerable in financial difficulty.

But KCC faces a shortfall of tens of millions of pounds next year and is seeking ways of saving money.

Adult social care represents a massive chunk out of the council's annual budget with costs rising each year.

Disability Assist’s chief executive, Sophie Fournel said: "These proposed changes could have devastating consequences for disabled individuals and their families in our community.

Disability Assist’s chief executive, Sophie Fournel
Disability Assist’s chief executive, Sophie Fournel

"We have written an open letter to Kent County Council, expressing our concerns that these policy changes will negatively affect the well-being of those who rely on crucial adult social care services to live their lives, and disabled people in particular.

"It is imperative that local residents join us in this fight to ensure our voices are heard.

"We cannot stress enough the importance of local residents participating in the consultation process.

"Their feedback will play a crucial role in shaping policies that directly affect the lives of all who rely on adult social care. We need to work together to ensure that KCC implements fair and equitable social care policies that truly support the community."

KCC says residents can have their say on proposals to factor in higher, or enhanced, rates of disability benefits in financial assessments, and introduce a one-off fee for new self-funders, in two recently-launched consultations launched.

Both consultations are available to read, download and respond to on KCC’s Let’s Talk Kent website here.

Cllr Dan Watkins
Cllr Dan Watkins

KCC’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Adult Social Care, Dan Watkins, said: “We’re facing ever-increasing demands for complex care services, rising costs of care and a lack of adequate funding from central government.

"It means that, along with many other councils in England, we’re having to make tough decisions and find ways to ensure our services are sustainable for the future.

“The 2014 Care Act gave local authorities the power to change their charging policies to take in account higher, or enhanced, rates of disability benefits when assessing the contribution some people should make towards their care – subject to consulting and carrying out an Equality Impact Assessment. A number of councils have subsequently since done so.

“Our set-up fee for self-funding care arrangements is also among the lowest local authority fees in the country and has not been reviewed since it was introduced in 2017.

“It’s important we hear from people who draw on social care and support, and organisations working on the frontline, to help us make informed decisions; and I urge residents, carers, care providers and organisations representing disabled and older people to have their say.”

KCC was able to present a costed, balanced budget for 2024-25 earlier this month – as it must by law – but will face the same pressures to find efficiencies next year.

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