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Coronavirus (COVID-19): updates and advice

Making charges fairer for adult social care and support

We have changed our charging policy following a review. The policy is about how we charge people for a contribution towards the cost of their adult social care and support services.

The reasons for the review were to make sure that the policy:

  • supports 'personalised' care and support arrangements
  • remains fair and affordable for everyone in the future
  • is financially sustainable for the county council in the years to come

The Care Act 2014

The Care Act provides a single legal framework for charging and for recovering debts. It says that when a council arranges care and support to meet an adult's needs, it may charge them unless the law says the care and support must be free of charge. In cases where we may charge, we must only ask people to pay what they can afford. So some people will be entitled to financial help based on a means-test, and other people will be entitled to free care and support. (A means-test works out how much, if anything, a person will contribute towards the social care they receive. The means-test looks at a person's income and capital).

We have made sure that the way we charge for care services in Dorset reflects what the Care Act expects.

More information about the Care Act

Department of Health guidance - Care Act factsheets

The review of our charging policy included a ten week public consultation to encourage people in Dorset to have their say about the decisions that can be made locally by our county councillors. The consultation ended in February 2017. We received 372 responses.

What the review looked at

  • the review was about the way that we charge people for a contribution towards the cost of their adult social care, it was not about your social care and support, or the people that provide it for you
  • nothing in the review affected a person's entitlement to claim benefits - the review looked at how we can support more people to claim all the benefits they are entitled to
  • nothing in the review affected the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment or Disability Living Allowance - the mobility component will continue to be disregarded in the means-test
  • nothing in the review affected the Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG) given by the government - the MIG is there to make sure that a person is left with enough money to meet their needs, and to stay independent and part of society

Key changes

Following the review, a new means-tested policy has been phased in since 1 April 2017 that is fair to everyone and delivers a personalised service. 

Existing service users have a new personalised means-test before any changes are made to their contribution. We also offer people a free check to make sure that they are claiming all of the welfare benefits they are entitled to.

In the past we have been able to use discretion to automatically disregard the initial 25% of a persons disability-related benefit income in the financial means-test. The review showed that we can no longer afford to do that. However in all cases, it will continue to be the means-test that determines the person's financial contribution towards care - to ensure charges are affordable. Some people will not have to pay any contribution.

Fees and charges for non-residential adult social care services will increase by up to 5% from 15 April 2018. This is only the second time these fees and charges have increased since 2012.

Respite care is a residential service. Respite care charges for April 2018 to March 2019 have increased in line with welfare benefit increases.

Full details of the review are available in the cabinet report of 8 March 2017 called 'Making Charges Fairer' for adult social care.

Further information

People who responded to the public consultation emphasised the importance to them of good and clear information and advice. We are working to improve access to this for people.

The Which? Later Life Care website offers free, independent and practical advice about caring for older people and includes the choices available and information on financing care.

Contact us

If you have any questions about the details of your own means-test, please use the contact details provided on our correspondence with you.

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