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New fees for care and support in Aberdeenshire postponed

By David Porter

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Revised fees for the delivery of residential and non-residential care and support by the Aberdeenshire Health & Social Care Partnership have been postponed.

At its meeting in February, Aberdeenshire Council’s Communities Committee approved a charging policy proposed by the Integration Joint Board, which oversees the work of the partnership.

Most charges were due to increase by 3 per cent, with some exceptions where fees were to remain unchanged.

The new fees structure for 2020/21 was due to take effect from April 6, but in light of the impact of coronavirus (Covid-19) and the work required to implement the charges, the changes are to be delayed until further notice.

The matter was discussed at a meeting of the Communities Committee on Thursday as an item of urgent business.

A report before the committee highlighted the difficulties that would be faced in implementing the policy, including the reduced availability of staff, the current inability to offer face to face meetings with service users, and the potential concerns around raising fees at this time.

As a result, fees will remain as per the 2019/20 levels for the meantime.

The position will be reviewed over the coming weeks by the chief officer of the Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership in discussion with the Communities Committee chair, vice-chair and opposition spokesperson.

Councillor Anne Stirling
Councillor Anne Stirling

Speaking after the meeting, committee chairwoman councillor Anne Stirling said: “Although we are moving towards full cost recovery for chargeable social care services, we agreed now was not the right time to implement the new policy, both in consideration of our services user and for the associated practical reasons.

“We’ll review the circumstances over the coming weeks and I hope this decision provides assurance that we want to continue to develop our services but with the best interests of our services users and their families at heart.”

Committee vice-chair councillor Michael Roy said: “It’s important that we’re able to provide easy access to advice and support to our service users and the current circumstances make that very difficult, so it’s only right that we wait until we’re in the best position to be able to do that.

“Our focus now must remain on ensuring the continued delivery of these essential services to everybody that is due to receive them without the additional burden of implementing the new policy.”

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