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On the 1st of April 2019, Frank’s Law came into effect in Scotland. This is where, as part of the council’s Charging Policy, they can no longer make charges for people under 65 for Personal Care, the same as it has been for people 65 and over. This covers all SDS (Self Directed Support) options, whether you get an SDS budget to higher your own staff , use Council Care Staff or a Care Agency.
The Law is known as Frank’s Law, after the Dundee United football player, Frank Kopel who took Dementia in 2008 and because he was under pension age he was charged by his council for his personal care. Frank and his wife Amanda, became figure heads for various bodies, who were fighting against what was described in Scotland as the Care Tax. Sadly Frank Kopel died in April 2014, five years before the Law came into force, however his wife Amanda kept on the fight for the benefit of others.
In anticipation of the Law coming into force and being aware that councils would lose income on their Charging Policy, (although not all councils charged for Personal Care in Scotland), The Scottish Government in 2018 gave councils in Scotland a total of £30 million pounds as a form of compensation.
So the spirit of the Law should be that councils can no longer charge for Personal Care, after the 1st of April 2019. Unfortunately council’s were left by the Scottish Government to police this Law, which has turned into a Post Code Lottery, with some councils such as Fife Council and North Lanarkshire Council continuing to give full care free of charge to their SDS constituents. However other councils under the umbrella of the Cosla Charging Policy 2019-2020, have decided to do their own thing, to such extremes that South Ayreshire Council has decided to use their slice of the £30 million to put to other uses, instead of using it to provide free Personal Care.
As a constituent of South Lanarkshire Council, I have been told that instead of me paying £277 every 4 weeks for my overall Care Package, they can no longer charge me for my Personal Care, however as I had a large package which gives me 52 hours (up from 48 hours last year) of care a week, they will now be charging me £300 per 4 weekly. So while my Personal Care can no longer be charged, my overall package (all be it up 4 hours per week) is now going to cost me an extra £23 every four weeks, as the council have calculated that my Personal Care only accounts for just over 50% of my overall care. They count the rest as social care, therefor they are allowed to charge me. Where South Lanarkshire’s over £1.7 million share of the overall £30 million went, or is going is still open to scrutiny.
There lies the problem, as a 62 year Spina Bifida/ Paraplegic, who used to walk in calipers and crutches since I was three, until I broke my leg (not the same as a normal person breaking a leg, it was life changing) at work at 48, after working as a Civil Servant/Trade Unionist for 27 years, I am now left very dependent on the support of my two loyal PA’s/carers for the last 8 years, to not only look after my very personal and extensive medical care but to also enable me to get out and about, as I need them to load and unload the wheelchair in the car and give me a push in my wheelchair when my energy runs out. I also rely on them for cooking meals and cleaning the house, as I have no immediate family.
However the definition of Personal Care, under the Cosla (who are basically a union for councils ) guidelines, Personal Care is very restrictive, amounting to washing, dressing, medical care management in the home only, heating or preparing a basic quick meal and helping to feed the person. Almost what a council’s Home Care workers would do in a limited half hour/ hour visit for infirm pensioners in their own home. But certainly not covering the needs of what SDS was designed to cover, such as the need for a home prepared and cooked meal, or a visit to a restaurant, cinema, hospital/doctors/dentist appointment’s (of which there are many as a disabled person), shopping and picking your own food. Or any housework such as washing and cleaning a house to keep it germ free, that any able bodied person takes for granted as part and parcel of living in their own home, but may be out of the scope for a severely disabled person (who is often more pron to infection) to carry out.
I would suggest that the disabled person asks for a copy of their joint Community Care Assessment which should be agreed by both the disabled person and the social worker and also a copy of their council’s Charging Policy. They can also contact SDS advisory bodies such as Self Directed Support Network South Lanarkshire (which I am chair of) or Take Control Hamilton, or Spaen for North Lanarkshire or GSIL for Glasgow citizens. There will also be other bodies spread throughout Scotland who carry out a similar service, your council libraries or the internet should be able to point you in the right direction.
Sadly however Frank’s Law has turned out to be a damp squid and a bit of a con, with councils simply claiming that there will be some winners and some looser affected by Frank’s Law. With an extra £30 million put into the fund across Scotland and remembering that the whole Law is based on eradicating Personal Care Charges for Disabled people under 65, I fail to see how anybody could be left with increased charges, due to Frank’s Law. The fight continues.