THE [Pembrokshire County Council] Cabinet, on November 4, approved a consultation with regard to proposed increases in charges for non residential social services.

The report quoted a potential £600,000 p.a. increase in income collection from £1m to £1.6m in respect of charges for support in the home and community.

A further potential income increase of £200,000 p.a. was indicated in respect of flat rate charges levied for meals and community alarms.

However, when the report was called in by the Older Person’s Health and Wellbeing Committee, members of that committee were assured by officers that “those who do not pay now will not pay under any new scheme”

and a means test would only affect those with the ability to pay”. (Western Telegraph, November 27, page 14).

It is council policy to only support those unfortunate to have assessed needs falling within the bands of critical and serious.

These “cases” are also subject to a financial means test based on the weekly income that you are assumed to have left after an allowance has bee made for outgoings that cover the cost of living. However the maximum contribution paid for care will not exceed £50 per week as laid down by Welsh Government.

Those assessed with moderate and low needs apparently are not supported directly by the council, and will only benefit from advice, information and agencies that may be able to provide direct support – at a cost.

Everybody in receipt of a service will have to pay the increased flat rate charges for meals and community alarms.

Although the cabinet approved the proposed charge structure for consultation, it was only at the O&S committee that officers indicated that the anticipated total addition income of £800,000 p.a. was based on an assumption, and that more work was needed to gather more information.

Does this mean that officers and the cabinet does not know who and how people will be affected by their proposals?

You have to question the basis on which cabinet reaches its decisions. Radically for this council, the results of this consultation process will be reported first to O & S Committee before the report is put to cabinet for approval.