Assessment - Financial assessments
If direct payments following financial assessment could be paid net instead of gross, in most cases, this would make the financial assessment process more streamlined
Payments for social care needs are means tested. The Council carries out a financial assessment on each person who may be eligible for government support. If the person's means are above the established threshold then they must pay a contribution towards the cost of meeting their needs. This is, more often than not, collected by the Council to offset the resources they have allocated. Doing this efficiently can help achieve greater satisfaction and better outcomes for people.
What are the outcomes we want to achieve?
- The financial assessment process is clear and transparent
- People are charged an amount which is reasonable and that they can afford
- Nobody is charged more than it has cost the Council to meet the needs
- The financial assessment and charging policies are applied equitably
- People receive sufficient information and advice to understand the contributions they are required to make, ways to pay and receive support on managing the money
- People are able to make informed financial decisions
- Contributions are made and collected in a timely cost-effective manner where it is actually necessary to pay gross
- The individual's mental capacity to make relevant financial decisions is properly considered, and alternative arrangements put in place as necessary
What tools and resources do we need to do a good job? What are the steps we have to go through?
- Information and advice on local charging approach to social care and health including Re-enablement being free for six weeks
- Online calculator to self-assess the likely contribution
- Independent financial advice signposted to where relevant
- Assessment of the individual's mental capacity to supply information and make the relevant financial decisions
- Properly disclosed information from the individual, and partner if suitable, detailing relevant income savings, assets and individual/joint outgoings where the person who uses services habitually subsides the other partner
- Access to support to complete the financial assessment
- Appropriate involvement of the person's holder of lasting power of attorney, or Court-appointed deputy, where they have one
- A range of mediums including face-to-face as well as online and paper forms
- All resources, information in preferred format
- Proper attention to issues of authority, mental capacity, agency and information law
What are the products we will have at the end of this process?
- Advice on benefits eligibility
- Decision and individual financial contribution
- Clear understanding of charges for arranging services (arrangement fee) for self-funders
- Information and advice on next steps and what to do in case of changes in circumstances
- Written record of the financial assessment
- Agreement on when and how the contribution will be collected
- Application to the Court of Protection (eg for deputyship) where necessary
When does this process start and end and within what timescales should this process be completed?
- Begins at first point of contact: sharing information about the financial assessment process and encouraging people to engage as early as possible
- Should not delay the delivery of care
- Should relate to local minimum standards for timescale for a decision following the collection of all relevant information
- Completed financial assessment ends when the resource allocation process is completed
Who needs to be involved and what is their role? Who is taking the lead?
- Financial assessments team
- Family or carer
- Independent advocate or chosen representative
- Care coordinator
- Money management advice staff
- Appointeeship service
Collecting personal contributions gross generates a lot of financial transactions. Invoicing and accounting for these payments takes significant resources and time for both the council and customer. Overly bureaucratic processes can reduce the satisfaction levels, the positive outcomes and increase costs.
The Care Act and direct payments regulations from 2009 have allowed Councils to pay net. Councils therefore only need a policy regarding situations when it would not be alright to do so. i.e. when the DP holder for a person lacking capacity does not have any other form of legal authority to access the personal money or benefits of the individual, from which to pay the charge element towards the purchasing arrangements.