Once an assessment of need has been carried out and a decision taken as to what services are to be provided to meet your needs, a financial assessment may be needed.
This assessment will determine whether or not you will have to pay for, or make a contribution to, the cost of providing the services.
The issue of who pays for community care services is one which gives rise to many queries.
The rules which apply to charging for home help services are different to those which apply to residential and respite care. The principal difference is that Trusts have a duty to impose charges for residential accommodation whereas there is only a power to charge in respect of the whole range of non-residential services.
Even with this important distinction there are some fundamental principles which apply to all aspects of charging.
Assessment of Need
All decisions about the provision of services must be made independently of any consideration of your financial resources.
This means that assessment of need is the first stage in the process and must be carried out before any consideration of your financial situation.
The second stage will then identify the services required to meet those care needs.
The third stage of the charging process will consider your ability to pay. Regardless of whether a trust has a duty or discretion to impose a charge, it must take into your ability to pay in determining the amount of any charge. There are no fixed charges and any charge imposed by social services must not exceed what is reasonable for you to pay.
Inability or Failure to Pay
It is also important to note that if you have been assessed as needing a service, social services may not refuse to provide the service if you are unable to or fail to pay the charge imposed.
A Trust may take legal action in seeking to recover any charge as a debt but it is still legally obliged to continue to provide the service.
Government Guidance on Charges
The Government issues relevant and up-to-date information in Charging for Residential Accommodation Guide (CRAG)(PDF 903KB).