man looks out of windowAlong with other organisations in Wales, we are calling on Welsh Government to scrap plans to raise weekly charges for social care and support. 

We have submitted a response to a Welsh Government consultation proposing an uplift in the maximum weekly charge by local authorities.

Our response echoes the worries of other organisations. Our main concern is the potential impact that raising these charges will have on the financial, emotional and mental well-being of people with a learning disability and their families.

What is Welsh Government proposing?

In its consultation, the Welsh Government says it needs to raise weekly charges from the current maximum of £100 due to the acute financial pressures on local authorities. It has set out three options, raising charges by £15, £20 or £25 per week.

The justification for this is the increasing costs faced by councils due to high inflation, rising demand and the tough financial settlement in the latest Welsh Government budget.

While we understand that these pressures are placing a huge strain on our councils and the services they provide, we would also argue that raising the cost of care and support is the wrong way of meeting these challenges and discriminates against society’s most vulnerable.

Welsh Government claims that these are only “maximum charges” and will be means tested so only those who can afford to pay will have to contribute.

However, the rules for means testing in these cases exclude any earnings from employment so it is therefore mainly people on benefits who are affected. The minimum amount that disabled people should be left with each week to live on has not increased for a long time, despite the cost of living crisis.

This means that many disabled people on benefits are already having to contribute the maximum charge towards their care and support, many of whom are being left with not enough money to live on.

Our response

As this issue cuts across a range of people with differing needs, we have teamed up with organisations representing those people to jointly voice our concerns and challenge the proposals.

We argue that imposing the charge is unfair and not founded in evidence. Raising the charge will have a greater impact on people with a learning disability than it will on the finances of local government.

Increasing the maximum charge for care and support is also a direct contradiction to Welsh Government’s previous pledge to explore proposals for a national care system that is free at the point of delivery.

Learning Disability Wales’s position

Zoe Richards, Chief Executive of Learning Disability Wales, said: “We are under no illusion about the pressures faced by local authorities in Wales.

“However, we are also profoundly aware of the challenges being faced by many people with a learning disability that have been created by the very issues Welsh Government and local authorities are using to justify the uplift in care and support costs.

“Charging people with a learning disability for the care provided by the state is contradictory to the social model of disability. It could even be perceived as a tax on disability.

“The people who have endured the worst extremes of the cost of living crisis and spiralling inflation in the last few years are now being told they will have to pay more for the support that enables them to be active and engaged citizens who lead happy and fulfilled lives.

“We cannot see how such a proposal can ever be justified.”

You can read the joint response from Learning Disability Wales and our colleagues at other organisations and advocacy groups here.