Fresh look for York Connect to Support – Core Information and Advice eMarketplace

Connect to support

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A website offering information about local services, providers and activities and groups for adults needing care and support has a fresh new look this month.

Connect to Support York has been updated and refreshed to ensure that the information on the site is inline with new national changes to care and support as laid out in the Care Act legislation.

The site enables people to find out about activities and groups in their local area; source information and advice, and purchase their own help and support directly from provider organisations.
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Care Act to cost £9 million to implement in York

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The York Council says that around £9 million is required to fully implement the new Care Act

1637 people with care needs who are currenty self funded are expected to apply to the Council for an assessment of their needs

The Council admits that currently there are no Joint Commissioning arrangements in place for the commissioning of health and social care in adult residential care placements in York

The Care Act 2014 brings together existing care and support legislation into a new, modern set of laws and aims to build a care and support system based on people’s well-being, needs and goals.

The Act sets out new rights for carers, emphases the need to prevent and reduce care and support needs, and introduces a national eligibility threshold for care and support.

It introduces a cap on the costs that people will have to pay for care and sets out a universal deferred payment scheme.

Care improvements available in York from 1st April

Health and social care partners across York are asking people to find out what the new national care reforms will mean for them as the significant reform across social care – the first in over 60 years – comes into effect from 1st April.

The key changes are:

1.   Carers will have expanded rights to assessment and to council support. This change puts carers on the same footing as those they care for, allowing them to get the support they need for themselves. This could be practical support like being able to take a break from caring responsibilities or they may be entitled to a direct payment to spend on things that will make it easier to carry on caring.

2.   The changes will introduce a new national eligibility threshold, providing peace of mind that wherever you live in the country, or plan to move to within England, if your needs meet the threshold, you will be eligible for support. This new eligibility threshold has already been adapted in York.

3.   Deferred payment agreements will become available across the country meaning that people should not have to sell their home in their lifetime to fund their care costs. In York, the new legislation will strengthen the existing arrangements.

Guy Van Dichele, Director of Adult Social Care, City of York Council says: “We are committed to working with partners to support local people with their needs for care and support. We’re confident that the changes we are making will enable more people to get the help they need, whether that’s a carer who needs a break from caring or someone who may be able to move to a care home without having to undergo the stress of selling their home.”

A Department of Health spokesperson says: “Care and support is something that nearly everyone in this country will experience at some point in their lives. These changes – the most significant in over 60 years – will make the system fairer by putting the needs, wishes and goals of people, and their carers, at the heart of every care decision.”

For more information on the Care Act visit www/york.gov.uk/careact

Social care payments made easier

City of York Council Adult Social Care customers will find it simpler and easier to pay for their care and support services in the future.

In line with new social care legislation – The Care Act 2014 – which becomes law on 1 April, the council has made some changes to the way that it supports people with the funds they receive for care and support.

Residents who receive direct payments – money from the council that they use to pay for their care and support directly – will have it paid into a prepaid account called Cash Plus from 1 April. They can then use the Cash Plus account like a normal current account to pay for the support they need.

The new arrangements mean that the vast majority of social care customers receiving direct payments will use the Cash Plus account, rationalising previous arrangements, though some flexibility will still be available.

Michael Melvin, Interim Assistant Director of Adult Social Care, City of York Council, said: “Directs Payments help to give people more control over their care and support and the new arrangements will make the system simpler and easier for them to use.”

Social Care project flop cover up continues

Behind closed doors logoLabour Councillors continued to obstruct attempts to get at the truth behind the Lowfields Care village fiasco when the Council held a review meeting last night.

Despite revelations yesterday that senior Councillors have known for at least a year that the planned scheme was “unaffordable”, the Labour Council leadership continues to be in a  state of denial.

Meeting minutes revealed that official had blamed “gold plated” building standards for the failure of the project. They had been reluctant to admit the failures because it “could have affected the credibility of the Councils flagship rewiring project”.

The plan had been to keep the mistakes under wraps until after the Council election in May.  But sustained questioning by Opposition Councillors, coupled with the need to respond to Freedom of Information requests, finally forced the public admission last month.

They now hope to sell the site (a valuation of £2 million has been put on it) but appear to have already decided that 100 homes will be built there.

Other than the normal planning application consultation, residents will have no opportunity to influence this decision.

The present Council now only has about 6 weeks to run. Hopefully a more enlightened regime will take over after May 7th.

Only then is the real truth about the fiasco – which is set to cost taxpayers around £1 million – likely to emerge.

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Major revelations as Lowfields care village plans set for review later today

Leading Labour Councillors knew 12 months ago that project was “unaffordable”

 Minutes of the Council EPH project board meetings are beginning to emerge into the public light. They reveal that the Councils requirements for the Lowfields care village and a similar facility at Burnholme School were described by Council officials as “gold plated”.

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A review meeting of the decision is set to start at 5:00pm today in the Councils West Offices.

As long ago as April 2014 negotiations with the only two remaining bidders for the project had revealed a £17 million gap in funding.

6 weeks later one of the bidders had dropped out, apparently leaving the board with no option but to abandon the project and find another way of dealing with the demand for care places.

At that time, closing all the Councils care homes and buying in all provision from the private sector was the tabled alternative.

The minutes reveal that both Leader James Alexander and Cllr Cunningham (Cross) were briefed that the project was failing. Despite this Cllr Cunningham maintained, in response to Council questions, that negotiations were still ongoing and claimed that procurement rules prevent other Councillors being updated.

In April 2014 the Council were still describing the two site project in glowing terms,

“It will deliver facilities that are light years ahead of our current care homes and ‘raise the bar’ of care provision in the city. The provider should have no difficulty in attracting self-funders into such facilities”.

“The project’s engagement of residents, relatives, staff, older people, voluntary sector partners, and other key stakeholders, in the vision and design of the care home modernisation programme was hailed at the time, and is a blueprint for our current re-wiring approach”.

“The timing of this decision is crucial too coming, as it does, at a point when we are about to publically launch a ‘re-wiring public services programme’ founded on transforming services and doing things differently, based on co-production with our staff, Trade Unions, York’s residents and other key stakeholders. Given the significant public consultation and co-production involved in getting the EPH project this far, if we were to back-track now our credibility would be questioned

 By February of 2015, the Council was describing the project as outdated with more modest localised facilities said to be an “exciting opportunity“.

The April meeting concluded with the warning “there is still a considerable risk of the procurement falling over (because of affordability issues, the Burnholme site issues, etc.”

A developing sense of crisis is evident in the June 2014 board minutes with a July meeting arranged to formally wrap up the care village option. It would be over 6 months before theist decision was made public.

Opposition Councillors are calling for the minutes of all the project board meetings to be made public.

It still likely that the project floundered as a result of the Burnholme school requirement being added to an already expensive project. In 2012 the Lowfields scheme had been declared financially viable following a “soft marketing” exercise.

It emerged that in 2013 officials had talked of fudging the financial aspects of the project

There is a lot more to come out about this scandal which has already cost taxpayers around £500,000 in abortive costs with promised annual savings of £500,000 a year also jeopardised.

After 5 years of talk, muddle, delay and confusion, Labour abandon plan for Lowfields Elderly Care Village

£1 million wasted on aborted project?

Acomb care village site - project abandoned

Acomb care village site – project abandoned

Labour have today admitted that they have failed to deliver a new modern facility – aimed at older people – on the site of the former Lowfields school.

Talks with potential contractors have been abandoned and the future of the site has been thrown into the air again.

The site had been “marketed” jointly with the Burnholme school site on the other side of the City (which may still go ahead)

Residents in the west of the City were hoping to see the equivalent of the Hartrigg Oaks facility, which Rowntree Housing manage on the other side to the City, built in Acomb. The Lowfields site was considered to be ideal because it is within walking distance of all major services and facilities. It is close to a frequent buss service.

Although the retirement village was agreed in 2010 by the last LibDem administration, the project was derailed when Labour took office in 2011. They tried unsuccessfully to develop the scheme as a Council run home…. believed to be a condition which a local government union imposed when funding Labours last election campaign.

“In house” provision proved to be unaffordable with build figures of over £20 million leaked to the media in 2012.

The project then went the same way as the Community Stadium plan, with additional requirements being heaped onto potential developers making the whole scheme unviable.

Instead of admitting failure 2 years ago, Labour continued with a doomed “procurement process” until today’s’ announcement brought the sorry saga to an end

The project was 5 years behind schedule and is probably a bigger example of mismanagement than even the Lendal Bridge fiasco.

 Clearly one big question is how much has been spent (staff time, “soft marketing”, plans, procurement etc.) so far on the Lowfields project?

Some sources put the figure at over £1 million.

The U turn will cause consternation in elderly care facilities across the City. Some were destined to close when occupiers moved to the brand new state of the art village.

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Universal Credit introduced in York

The Government’s Universal Credit scheme is being introduced in York by the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) from today, 16 February 2015.

The scheme is being introduced incrementally. It will only affect single working-age job seekers making a new claim for benefits at the Job Centre and who will therefore be assessed for Universal Credit.

If they require support with their rent they will no longer claim Housing Benefit from the council, as the DWP will pay their housing costs as part of the single Universal Credit payment.

However, it is important that they still make a claim for Council Tax support from the council if they are the Council Tax bill payer.

Universal Credit is a single payment that is made one monthly in arrears direct to the job seeker. In some circumstances payment of rent can be made directly to landlords, but this will be exceptional.

Residents such as those living in a refuge or living in accommodation where they receive care, support or supervision, such as a hostel, will continue to receive Housing Benefit. The scheme does not affect pensioners who are in receipt of Housing Benefit.

The council is working in partnership with organisations including the Citizens Advice Bureau and Explore York Libraries and Archives Mutual Ltd to provide support to local residents claiming Universal Credit, and to those who have problems with their personal budgets or making a claim on-line.

The number to call for this help is 01904 551556.

From 16 February, single working age job seekers can claim Universal Credit on-line from the DWP at https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit 

Social care cuts consultation

York residents are being invited to have their say on the future of Adult Social Care in the city this month.

City of York Council clams it is “committed to helping York’s residents live independent and fulfilling lives based on choices that are important to them. The authority already knows that where residents need care and support in older age, they want these delivering in their own homes or in a community setting. They also want improved signposting, advice and guidance, and for the agencies involved in health and adult social care to join up more and provide greater awareness of the local support and facilities available to residents”.

“To build on this, the council is carrying out a quick five minute survey to understand what is important to those who are currently accessing adult social care, and those who may potentially need to access care and support in the future. The authority is also keen to hear from Carers and those in the voluntary sector.

The results of the consultation will be used to shape services (jargon) for the future, as part of the council’s Rewiring Public Services (jargon) Programme.

In Adult Social Care, the council’s rewiring (jargon)  programme is seeking to address some of the inherent failings of, and pressures on, the existing national model for adults’ care including a lack of clarity and understanding of the system by customers, an ageing population and people living longer with disease and disability.

Following engagement with residents, staff, elected members and partners, the council is looking at a number of different ways it can achieve the outcomes that local people want -relying less on hospital-based care and care homes, with more care delivered in resident’s homes and in their local neighbourhood -within the budget available”.

The consultation is available at www.rewiringyork.com

Sad really that the Council is making it so difficult for residents to react to their programme of cuts in public service provision.

Language, setting up seperate web sites, failure to issue timely notices of meetings.” all adds up to confusion for many.

NB. Following on from our story about the Councils clumsy consultation proecesses and use of jargon we understand that later today (Thursday 12 February) between 2pm and 2:30pm, “Sally Burns, director of Communities & Neighbourhoods, will be answering people’s questions about proposed changes to Place-Based Services (jargon) in a live streamed Q&A session broadcast on YouTube and www.york.gov.uk/webcasts “

The Council are encouraging everyone to put forward their burning questions either before or during the event by email at rewiringyork@york.gov.uk or on Twitter using the #RewiringYork hashtag.