Local councils are discreetly increasing care bills for adults with learning disabilities and mental health conditions.
Vulnerable people are being left with as little as £3 a day to spend on essential items, meaning they cannot afford small luxury’s, such as a trip to the cinema.
One man who lives on his own is worried he will need to put his dog down because he won’t have enough money to look after it.
The new “care tax” has been introduced to meet the growing demand of social care. According to The Health Foundation an extra £6bn a year is needed which could rise to £14bn if the UK wants to pay more staff and build on access facilities.
Chief executive of Mencap, Edel Harris said the proposed plan was “causing huge distress for them and their families, and leaving many without enough money to cover their additional needs”.
A percentage of people are refusing to pay and considering legal action.
West Sussex county council are one of the councils introducing the new charges, they argue the tax is necessary because of “decreased funding from central government”.
A council spokesperson told The Guardian: “Our charging arrangements follow national guidance and are based on an individual assessment of a person’s financial circumstances. We have asked people to contact us if they will find it difficult to pay so we can work with them on an individual basis.”
Dr Richard Harling, the director of health and care at Staffordshire county council, said people’s tax was being “based on what they can afford to pay while still being left with income to meet their living costs.
“If a person feels they are contributing too much, they can contact us to appeal their financial assessment.”
Anna Severwright, coalition convener at Social Care Future [a coalition of care givers and receivers] said: “Escalating charges must be capped and there must urgently be a significant investment in social care, our lives and freedom.”
The coalition has received over 150 reports of rising charges.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “People should pay affordable rates and not be charged more than it is reasonably practicable for them to pay. Local authorities should ensure people retain enough of their benefits to pay for support not provided by the council.
“We are providing councils with access to £1bn in additional funding for social care in 2021-22, on top of a further package of support worth £3bn to help address the additional pressures during the pandemic.”
David Jones (pictured above) lives with bipolar disorder, his only companion is his dog Megan. The 60-year-old could see him having to increase his cost of care from £40 to £151 a week.
Jones said: “I simply can’t afford it. This extortionate demand represents 20% of my monthly income from benefits. It has to be outright unfair and a national scandal that the Department for Work and Pensions awards us Pip [Personal Independence Payment] with one hand, and the county council takes up to a third of it away with the other.
“I would have to cut my food budget drastically and might end up having to go to a food bank. I have a dog and if I was going to try and budget for the amount of money [I have left] the dog would have to go.”
He added: “This [demand] has caused me incredible distress and anxiety,” he said. “There are people in an even more vulnerable position than me suffering with mental health illnesses, autism and learning disabilities and it must be extremely difficult for them to cope with this. It’s really heartless and cruel. I don’t think it’s going to raise an awful lot for the county council but it’s a vast amount for us.”
The Aldingbourne Trust charity in West Sussex has said at least 50 families have complained about the new care tax.
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