A special Consultation Café was held in July, open to members of Borders Voluntary Care Voice and those involved in user groups, to meet Frances Eneide, the Project Manager for the Comprehensive Review of Charging at Scottish Borders Council.
The event was part of the consultation for the review and a range of feedback was given. The inefficiencies of the current system and the stress and difficulties it can cause were highlighted. For example, people received large backdated bills halfway through the financial year that they were unable to pay.
There were reports of charges causing problems for people accessing services such as respite. Members also gave reports of people giving up services they needed as they were worried about not being able to pay.
Another issue raised was a lack of clarity around which services were chargeable between health and social care needs, for instance some mental health services.
Members suggested creating a more robust and trustworthy independent review board for appeals and improving the financial assessment process, for example by taking a person’s other outgoings into account.
On the theme of information, there were concerns that it was not accessible enough, and it was felt that it should be available in easy read and other formats.
The consultation period finished at the end of August and a draft policy is to be presented to Scottish Borders Council in October. with a statutory consultation period to follow. The new policy will go live in April.