People who need care services (help with a range of daily activities, from dressing, to bathing, to shopping and going out) apply to their local council and have their needs evaluated by the council's social care team.
After that evaluation, people are placed in one of four Fair Access to Care Bands (the category descriptions below have been edited – full descriptions for each band are in this Department of Health briefing, from page 21):
People are placed in this band if they face a threat to life, or a loss to their independence if they don't have care services and their needs met.
People are placed in this band if they will be unable to carry out the majority of their personal care or domestic routines without care services.
People are placed in this band if there is some risk to their health or wellbeing, or if they might lose their independence, without care services.
This band is for people who find one or two aspects of their daily life hard to manage without help.
Problems as councils cut budgets and services
Many councils have stopped funding care for people in the low and moderate groups. Some have also tried to restrict funding to people in the critical band which has led to court challenges.
The Independent recently published a report based on False Economy Freedom of Information data on the numbers of people affected by these band changes in the past two years. Our data showed that more than 7000 disabled and elderly people had lost some or all of their state-funded support after councils changed eligibility rules.
Interviews with people affected
In the video below, Margaret Cropper, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, explains that she wasn't even sure which FACS category she was in when her council (Lancashire county council) announced in 2011 that it would stop funding the “moderate” category.
- Linda H on running out of care hours and insufficient direct payment funds to pay for adequate care hours
- Trying to pay for respite care
- Only eligible for an after-surgery reablement care package
Increased charges for care
Councils across the country have been rapidly increasing charges for a range of services, including homecare, meals on wheels and transport.
An FOI investigation into care charges at the end of last year showed showed that the average charge for an hour of home care increased by ten percent between 2009/10 and 2012/13 from £12.29 to £13.61.
The Department of Health's Fairer Charging Policies for Home Care and other non-residential social services.
Interviews with people affected
- Linda H on raising care fees
- Facing new costs of over £1000 a year for transport for children with disabilities – see also this testimony.
Independent Living Fund closure
The Independent Living Fund (ILF) was originally set up to provide extra funding for people with severe disabilities who wanted to live independently and stay in their own homes. The fund was closed to new applicants in 2010.
Now, the government is consulting on plans to shut the fund. It will devolve funding to local authorities in England and to the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales. The consultation began on 12 July 2012 and will finish on 10 October 2012.
ILF users have raised many issues, including concerns that councils will not be in a position to prioritise this funding and care in an era of vicious cuts to social care.
Daycentre and other centre closures
People around the country have also had to deal with the closure of popular services like daycentres. In this video, Andrew Millarkie, Chris Alvison, Donald Gibson, Victor Baylor, Eddie Davies, Terence Jones and Trevor Brian Steadman and Anne Lee, a group of people from Shropshire, talk about the loss of their daycentre.
Their centre - called The Grange - was an adapted, staffed and popular community hall and club used by people with severe physical disabilities. People's conditions included multiple sclerosis, severe epilepsy, cerebral palsy and debilitating strokes. They attended the daycentre for social events, to use the centre's computers and to take part in community projects.