My LA in rural Scotland says I have to top up their contribution to a PA’s mileage using my child’s lower level mobility DLA.
This disadvantages him as it’s several miles to the nearest cafe!
Does anyone else have the same experience from their authority?
I don’t have a mobility car, I use the dla mobility component to pay towards driving him to school and the GP
Really important questions you’re asking about, in terms of what someone can be asked to contribute towards the cost of their ‘care and support’. There are nationally (Scotland wide) agreed guidance that has been produced by COSLA (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities). This is called ‘Guidance on Charges Applying to Social Care Support for people at home 2021/2022’ which you can find here: https://www.cosla.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0021/23547/2021-22-COSLA-Charging-Policy-for-Social-Care-Support.pdf
One of the objectives they have is to: ‘Ensure the personal, social and economic circumstances of individuals are given due regard in determining whether charges should apply, and the level of charges
to prevent financial hardship’ (p.3)
It also states that: ‘There should be transparency over how charges are calculated’ (p.11)
One thing to highlight that may be relevant to yourself and your son - is that it looks like it may not be possible for a Local Authority to charge for a service to a child or young person under the age of 16. I’m not sure how old your son is, but if he is younger than 16yo then this might be relevant to him. It sounds like the charge being levied is for a service that your son receives. This may be something you can highlight to your Local Authority and to ask them to review their decision in light of the COSLA Guidance and that the service they are looking to charge for, is to meet the needs of your son.
The Guidance itself states:
‘Transition from Child to Adult Services
2.15 Currently, children are not charged for any social care up to the point they transition from children’s social work services to adult social work services, this can be any point between their 16th and 18th birthdays if they are not looked after by Local Authorities’ (p.7)
So it maybe that any charges don’t apply until your son has transitioned to adult services - but this also depends on the policy that your Local Authority has put in place.
In addition, services provided to carers are exempt from a charge. So it might be useful to check if any support is being arranged on the basis that it meets your needs as a carer and is not been subject to any charge being applied.
The Guidance states:
‘2.13 The Carers (Waiving of Chargers for Support) (Scotland) Regulations 2014 and the Self-directed Support (Direct Payments) (Scotland) Regulations 2014 require Local Authorities to waive charges in relation to support provided to carers’ (p.6)
In terms of the use of the mobility component of DLA, the Guidance also states:
‘Income from all sources should be considered including net earnings and all social security benefits with the exception of the mobility component of the Disability Living Allowance/Personal Independence Payment or Disability Assistance’.(my emphasis)
So I think that you have a genuine reason to ask for further information on how your Local Authority had worked out the charge that they are applying to your son’s support and to ask for a copy of their Charging Policy to see exactly what it says about these things.
If you could let me know which Local Authority area you live in, I can pass on the details of any local Independent SDS Information and Support service in your area. They may also have experience of supporting people with queries around social care charges.
Another way to find details of any relevant organisation is to go to the SDS Scotland website (here: https://www.sdsscotland.org.uk/) and do a search using the ‘Find Help’ button in the top right corner of the website.
I am not sure if this is about Charging but rather about how you are allowed to use your Optioon 1 budget. Do your LA have Guidance on this ? We have had discussions about this in the Scottish Borders and there are inconsistencies on this we are currently discussing with LA .
Sorry, Mark - if I have have misunderstood and it is about Charging !
Many thanks for the reply. I think it’s a good point you’re making. This could be resolved by the Local Authority agreeing that the SDS budget could be used to cover transport costs, so to give a greater degree of flexibility to how you are able to meet your son’s needs Tia. However, I’m not sure if that would ‘eat into’ the current budget in some way and affect what you can do overall. So there may be a good reason to:
- Ask for increased flexibility over the use of the SDS budget - as paying for this cost enables your son to meet his Personal Outcomes. You can also highlight how mobility money is already committed in other ways and you can only use this money once. The Local Authority may have a policy that they could share with you.
- Ask for an increase in the SDS budget to ensure the additional transport costs don’t affect the level and type of support that your son needs and continues to enable him to meet all of his Personal Outcomes.
If you were able to let us know which part of Scotland you’re in Tia, I could put you in touch with an Independent SDS Information and Support service that might be able to help you further with this issue.
Thanks for the advice , I’m in Aberdeenshire council and they are sticking to their policy , that if my child gets lower level dla then I pay 20p per mile to top up their 25p SDS budget such that the PA gets 45p per mile. I see no way forward unless at a higher level , a carers or disabled charity organisation is willing to take this up as this policy disadvantages my disabled child because of our rural location. I’m getting nowhere as an individual pointing out the unfairness of this policy. What I need is to know if other Scottish councils do this or do not, and suggestions of what organisation will help me.
Many thanks for the further message and information. I think this is such a specific issue now that it would be really helpful if you could get some specialist advice/support to look at this.
Being in the Aberdeenshire area you might already know Cornerstone SDS who are the Scottish Government SiRD funded organisations, providing local information and support for people trying to access and make use of SDS. So i’m assuming you’ve already had some discussion with them on this issue. If you haven’t, I can pass on the contact details for someone at their organisation that you could speak to further about this.
The other option I have is to speak to an organisation called Civil Rights First. They provide information and advice around health and social care and associated areas and can potentially support you in speaking to the Local Authority about this. You can find their details through our website by doing a ‘Find Help’ search, as they cover all of Scotland. However, to save you the time, the person to contact there would be:
The other thing that might help clarify the nature of the policy that the Local Authority has put in place, is whether they undertook an Equality Impact Assessment of their Charging Policy, as required under the Equalities Act. Possibly asking for a copy of this might help to understand whether the needs of different groups of people based on their protected characteristics (eg Age and Disability) have been taken into consideration when developing the policy. This might also help your discussions with Dionne or anyone else who might be able to support you further.
I hope that’s helpful but do come back to me if you need to discuss anything further. My direct email is: firstname.lastname@example.org