Conflict of Interest in relation to Client Finance/Appointeeship and the possibility that social care charges are unlawful

The request was successful.

Dear Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council,

To whom it may concern

1. How many individuals is the local authority acting as an appointee for, please?

2. How many of these individuals (in area or out of area) pays adult social care charges to the council for non-residential services?

3. Which department is responsible for administering appointeeship?

4. Which department is responsible for assessing social care charges?

5. How many officers in either department carry out an overlapping role with regard to appointeeship and care charges?

6. How many times has the appointeeship team responded to a consultation on behalf of individuals or any group of benefits claimants regarding a change in the council’s charging policy, since 2015?

7. How many appeals about care charges has the appointeeship team submitted to the financial assessment team since 2015?

8. How many complaints has the appointeeship team submitted regarding care charges since 2015?

9. How many times has the appointeeship team sought or referred individuals they act for, to independent advice (whether third sector, legal aid or privately funded) about care charges, since 2015?

10. How many times has the appointeeship team questioned the accuracy, fairness or legal validity of individuals’ care charges or the council’s charging policy, since 2015?

11. Does the council treat appointeeship as a Care Act service? If so, does it charge for that as part of the Care Act charging system?

12. How much does it charge, if it makes a charge, per month or per week or per year, please?

13. If appointeeship is not provided for through the Care Act, does the council allow for a DRE deduction from Disability Benefits income, for the charge it makes for appointeeship (assuming a person is otherwise chargeable)?

14. If the council does not operate appointeeships for adult social care clients, does the council permit a full DRE deduction from Disability Benefits income, for any charge levied by any other corporate or private appointee (assuming a person is otherwise chargeable)?

15. In respect of all council clients who are currently in receipt of adult social care services, regarded as liable to pay a charge for their adult social care services, for whom the appointee role is currently undertaken - how is the relevant department holding the appointeeship responsibility proposing to manage the conflict of interest presented by the judgment in the Norfolk CC v SH case in December 2020, given that the decision means that other similar policies are presumptively unlawful? Please answer with a sentence or a paragraph; it is suggested that it is not a proper response to say that no decisions have been made, as yet, because the problem already exists.

Regards
Belinda Schwehr, CEO, CASCAIDr. www.CASCAIDr.org.uk

Accesstoinformation, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council

Dear Belinda,

Thank you for your request for information regarding ‘Client Finance/Appointeeship’ (reference number 07219). Your request was received on the 22/03/21 and I am dealing with it under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and/or Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

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Kind Regards,

Heather Wolstenholme
Information Governance Officer
Email: [email address]
Tel: 01254 585651

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Accesstoinformation, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Belinda

Thank you for your request for information regarding ‘Client Finance/Appointeeship’ (reference number 07219); Please see our response attached/below. If you have any queries regarding your request for information then please don’t hesitate to contact us.

1. How many individuals is the local authority acting as an appointee for, please? 226

2. How many of these individuals (in area or out of area) pays adult social care charges to the council for non-residential services? 47

3. Which department is responsible for administering appointeeship? Strategic Commissioning & Adult Social Care Finance – Client Finances Team for Corporate Appointee/Deputyships

4. Which department is responsible for assessing social care charges? Strategic Commissioning & Adult Social Care Finance – Adults Finance Team

5. How many officers in either department carry out an overlapping role with regard to appointeeship and care charges? None, Officers working on the Client Finance Team are a separate team and have separate authorisations and access levels in the system than those of the ASC Finance Team.

6. How many times has the appointeeship team responded to a consultation on behalf of individuals or any group of benefits claimants regarding a change in the council’s charging policy, since 2015? None, there has been no change in the policy during this time.

7. How many appeals about care charges has the appointeeship team submitted to the financial assessment team since 2015? There have been no formal appeals.

8. How many complaints has the appointeeship team submitted regarding care charges since 2015? None

9. How many times has the appointeeship team sought or referred individuals they act for, to independent advice (whether third sector, legal aid or privately funded) about care charges, since 2015? None

10. How many times has the appointeeship team questioned the accuracy, fairness or legal validity of individuals’ care charges or the council’s charging policy, since 2015? The number of occasions is not available. The Service Users Appointee submits the financial information to the ASC Finance Team for the Financial Assessment so there is an initial review to ensure correct information is used for the financial assessment. If the outcome of the assessment is in query the Client team will challenge and both teams would work collaboratively to investigate and resolve as part of our usual business practices.

11. Does the council treat appointeeship as a Care Act service? If so, does it charge for that as part of the Care Act charging system? No

12. How much does it charge, if it makes a charge, per month or per week or per year, please? £10.00 per week, no charge if savings are less than £1,000

13. If appointeeship is not provided for through the Care Act, does the council allow for a DRE deduction from Disability Benefits income, for the charge it makes for appointeeship (assuming a person is otherwise chargeable)? No

14. If the council does not operate appointeeships for adult social care clients, does the council permit a full DRE deduction from Disability Benefits income, for any charge levied by any other corporate or private appointee (assuming a person is otherwise chargeable)? No

15. In respect of all council clients who are currently in receipt of adult social care services, regarded as liable to pay a charge for their adult social care services, for whom the appointee role is currently undertaken - how is the relevant department holding the appointeeship responsibility proposing to manage the conflict of interest presented by the judgment in the Norfolk CC v SH case in December 2020, given that the decision means that other similar policies are presumptively unlawful? Please answer with a sentence or a paragraph; it is suggested that it is not a proper response to say that no decisions have been made, as yet, because the problem already exists.

The judgement in the Norfolk CC v SH case is under review - as such no decisions have been made at this stage.

If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your request for information and wish to make a complaint or request a review of our decision, you should write to: Information Governance Manager, Information Governance, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, 3rd Floor, Old Town Hall, Blackburn, Lancashire, BB1 7DY or email [Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council request email]
 
If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint, you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally, the ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the complaints procedure provided by the Council. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF. 
 
Please find attached our 'have your say' feedback policy. 

Kind Regards,

Fatima Makken
Information Governance Officer
Email: [email address]
01254 222527

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