York to be badly hit by “Dementia Tax”

The Tories plan to force sick elderly people to sell their homes to pay for care cost will affect York residents more than any other City in the country.

Figures released today suggest that, because of relatively high local house prices, 99% of those accessing care services would lose ownership of their homes.

Under the Tory plans, revealed when they published their General Election manifesto last week, the homes would be sold to pay off any care cost debt, when a patient died.

Tim Farron, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, has launched a national movement calling on people, irrespective of their party affiliation, to stop the Conservatives’ planned Dementia Tax.

It comes alongside Liberal Democrat research that reveals that across England, 9 out 10 homes could be eligible for sale to meet Theresa May’s Dementia Tax.

Tim Farron is writing to key organisations about the campaign, including David Cameron as President of Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Writing to the leaders of leading health and older peoples’ charities, Tim Farron said:

“The measure of a Government is how they treat the most vulnerable in our society.  I don’t think that the Conservatives are unaware of the impact of their plans but they chose to ignore the human cost.

“Every elderly person that needs care should receive it in the best place for them and not be fearful of those mounting, limitless costs. I am determined that we ensure that Theresa May drops the so-called ‘Dementia Tax’ and implement a cap on the cost of care.

“Caring for our elderly must be above party politics and that is why I want to urge anyone who opposes the Conservatives’ plans to come together to stop it.

“We must resist this plan and challenge would-be Conservative MPs to reject and stop it.

“As a first step, I am urging people to sign up at dementiatax.org.uk  to help. I hope you will urge the supporters of your organisation to do the same. Together we can stop the so-called ‘Dementia’ Tax


  • Across England, 9 out 10 homes could be eligible for sale to meet Theresa May’s Dementia Tax.  
  • This includes:
    • in the South East in Oxford, 98% homes could be liable
    • in London, Richmond upon Thames, only 7 out of 476 homes sold would be exempt
    • in the North West, Stockport, 92% of homes could be liable
    • This year to date only 1 home sold out of 356 in Theresa May’s local authority would be exempt
    • In the poorest 10 local authority areas, an estimated 50% of homes could be liable to meet the ‘dementia tax’
    • For instance;
    • The local authority with the lowest average salary (Blackpool), where 52% of homes could be liable

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Views of older people sought in York survey

City of York Council and its partners are asking for older people across the city for their views on how we as a city can keep them healthier, happier and more independent for longer.

The survey asks for answers and suggestions on a range of issues including; social life, health, their local community and how they access information.

The survey, which is open for comments until Tuesday 30 June, will be distributed by partners across the city. Residents will also be able to pick up a survey from any of the Explore Library Learning Centres across the city or take the survey online at www.york.gov.uk/consultations.

The last citywide older people’s survey was held in 2008 and led to some really positive outcomes following feedback from residents. These included the introduction of a handy person service, a toe nail cutting service, and the Age UK first call information service.

Martin Farran, corporate director of health, housing and adult social care said: “Older people bring a great deal of knowledge, skill and energy and contribute enormously to the city.

“We are interested to know how our older residents currently live, the issues they face and to hear ideas on how we can keep older people healthy, happy and independent for longer.”

George Wood, Chair of the Executive Committee from the York Older People’s Assembly said: “This is a real opportunity for older people across the City to have their voice heard and to impact in a very real way on the future planning of services.”

The survey is being conducted collaboratively between the York Older People’s Assembly, Age (UK) York, Healthwatch York, York Council for Voluntary Services, York Blind and Partially Sighted Society, York Alzheimer’s Society, the Vale of York CCG, the Police and Crime Commissioner and City of York Council.

For more information, or to take the survey online, visit www.york.gov.uk/consultations.

York plans for Dementia Awareness Week (14-20 May)

Organisations across York are gearing up for Dementia Awareness Week (14-20 May) with a series of events.

The activities form part of York’s work to become a ‘dementia friendly city’ which is welcoming, empathetic and accessible to people living with dementia and their friends, relatives and carers.

As well as the events taking place across the city, residents will have numerous opportunities to find out more about dementia and the work taking place to help York be a dementia friendly city.

Throughout the week visitors to the customer centre at West Offices will be able to meet with staff at City of York Council and get information and advice for people living with dementia and their families.

Partners in the York Dementia Action Alliance have also arranged a host of events:

·        On 16May the Alzheimer’s Society will have a stand on Parliament Street

·        On 16 May between 2 and 3pm Dringhouses Library are offering a Dementia Friends Session, for more information visit https://www.exploreyork.org.uk/event/dementia-friends-workshop/

·        On 17 May residents are invited between 1.30pm and 3.30pm to a forget-me-not café, Tang Hall, special entertainment and music session. For more information call York Alzheimer’s Society on 01904 567701.

On Friday 26 May, the week after Dementia Awareness Week, City of York Council is supporting a showing of Still Alice Film at the New Earswick Folk Hall. Still Alice tells the story of Alice Howland, a linguistic professor was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease shortly after her 50th birthday. Before the movie speakers from the council, Inspired Youth and Minds in Motion will briefly provide information on some of the local initiatives taking place to support people with dementia. Tickets are available now from the Folk Hall or online via www.filmfolkhall.com.

Martin Farran, corporate director for health, housing and adult social care said: “One in three people over the age of 65 will develop dementia and there are around 2700 people in York living with dementia at the moment.

“These events are all part of our work to help York towards becoming a dementia friendly city. By raising awareness and understanding of dementia we can start to make life easier for those living with dementia, their family and friends.”

Information how organisations in York can support people living with dementia visit: www.dementiaaction.org.uk/local_alliances/2934_york_dementia_action_alliance

York Council takes action to ease debt risk for poorer families

The York Council has agreed to pay some of the fees involved in setting up and running a budget bank account at the Credit Union shop at 8 Acomb Court off York Road (tel.03030 300010) .

Details of budget and other accounts available at the branch can be found on the SYCC web site

The Council is taking the action to encourage those reliant on the Universal Credits benefit package to budget to avoid debts. Univeral Credit is paid in arrears and can be difficult to manage.

report to a recent meeting says,

“A recent article on the Association of Retained Council Housing site indicated that:

  • 86% of universal credit (UC) claimants living in council owned homes are in rent arrears (compared to 79% at March 2016).
  • 59% of universal credit claimants living in council owned homes have arrears that equate to more than one month’s rent.
  • Although 63% of UC tenants in arrears had pre-existing arrears before their UC claim only 44% of them are on APAs (alternative payment arrangements with direct payment from DWP)
  • The average value of arrears tenants owed across UC households has almost doubled to £615 since 31 March 2016 when average amount was £321.

A research article expressed concern about rent arrears.

“Not only are numbers of households increasing as UC is rolled out, but the percentage of households falling into rent arrears and experiencing financial difficulty is critically high.

If this trend is not reversed it will have significant impact on local authorities’ rental income streams and the long term ability for housing departments to provide essential services to their communities.

Use of the SYCU budget account and related services by customers could be one way of helping them manage their money effectively, prevent debt and help manage debt where this is accrued”.

Council officials will now help to promote the budget account to qualifying residents.


“Financial inclusion” project set to be launched in Westfield

£250,000 is set to be invested in helping less well-off members of the community in the Westfield, Clifton, Guildhall, Heworth and Hull Road wards. The wards are among the lowest ranked using a national “Index of Multiple Deprivation” (IMD). The project will last for two years.

In some ways, the project will seek to emulate the Kingsway Project, of the last decade, which did achieve some success in getting residents to apply for the benefits to which they were entitled. Paradoxically a low score in the IMD is influenced by the number of claimants – meaning that the more successful a benefits campaign is, the lower the score will be!

Some neighbourhoods – such as Chapelfields – have relatively small numbers of retired people and are less likely to be regarded as “deprived” using the national definitions.  However, the Council is, rightly, intending to roll out its project across the whole of the Westfield ward

A key target for any project like this must be to get more people into work. In KIngsway this proved to be difficult because of the large proportion of elderly and retired people in the area. These days the high employment level in the City means that there are a lot of jobs around so progress may be possible for the long term unemployed.

The Council has produced a summary of the key indicators of “deprivation” (below).  Many of these are unlikely to show a measurable improvement over just a couple of years (life expectancy being one example).

Instead of setting measurable  firm targets, the Council says, “Social Return on Investment produces a description of how a project creates value and a ratio that states how much social value in £s is created for every £ of investment”.

This is the management speak equivalent of Voodoo.

Disabled social care customers asked to make own transport arrangements in York

184 adult customers requiring transport to reach their social care destinations are still heavily reliant on CYC commissioned support. Over 90% of these  are adults with learning disabilities (travelling to centres such as Brunswick Organic Nursery, Greenworks, Pine Trees etc). A small number of older (Long Term Team) customers use commissioned transport to access day care services on a regular basis.


Approximately two thirds of these customers are currently being transported via an in-house fleet of “rapidly ageing” vehicles, whilst one third are transported by shared or individual taxis via a CYC contract with Streamline Taxis.

A Council media release says, “Whilst various options have been considered Councillors are being asked to agree that the council adopts a personalised approach whereby every adult customer is offered a direct payment to make their own transport arrangements, ensuring that transportation is flexible, accessible and tailored to the needs of individuals and communities”.

This is similar to the system introduced a few years ago where the majority of users of home care services are given money to pay for the own choice of provider. It proved to be a popular choice.

If agreed, the changes will see adult customers being offered a transport direct payment and will be able to choose from a range of council approved providers. A dedicated support officer will also be appointed to support the residents for the first 18 months of the new approach and help them develop personal transport plans, helping them be more independent.

The move is expected to cut £272,000 from the social care budget

The Council says its in house fleet will be run down by 2020 and that there may be 6 redundancies. The contract with Steamline taxis will not be renewed.

Each customer would receive on average around £5000 a year to pay for transport (plus mobility payments)

The recommended model hopes to equip customers with the confidence to take ownership of their requirements and offer them more choice and control over their transport arrangements.  

At the meeting councillors will also be asked to agree to the eligibility criteria for access to transport services, and if approved, the closure of the council’s fleet transport service by March 2020, which would reduce incrementally.

The residents would also be able to benefit from free York Independent Living and Travel Skills (YILTS) training to help them to travel independently. The YILTS training has already benefited customers and given them the confidence to travel independently while developing their social and financial skills.

The proposals align with the principles of the Care Act 2014, which aims are to place emphasis on prevention, early intervention and independence. The changes would affect 184 customers, of whom 26 are already travelling independently and a third travel through shared or individual taxis. All will be assisted via the dedicated support officer and access the free YILTS training.

Martin Farran, corporate director for health, housing and adult social care said: “With an ageing fleet we need to look at the options available to deliver an efficient and sustainable transport service for our customers. This report looks at options to give social care customers more choice and control over their transport, in lines with the principles of the 2014 care act, so they can take more ownership of their requirements.”

An executive report can be read by clicking here


Widow’s Pension Cuts: Cruel and Unnecessary

The Widow’s Pension is designed to help create security and safety for families when they lose a loved one. But this week it is under attack from a new wave of Government cuts. With less money being paid to widows, widowers and surviving civil partners from April 2017 onward.

The changes will only effect those families who lose a loved one after April 6th 2017.

The new rules will add pressure to families when they’re struggling most. Families who’ve just lost a parent are learning to cope on a single income and with one fewer parent. The previous system helped to ease the financial stress with a ‘parachute payment’ which is now greatly decreased.

Families with a terminally ill parent are facing the worst of it, with many having planned for life under the old system now having to look again at the support they can offer to their children or loved ones.

If you want the Government to change its mind and reverse cuts to bereavement benefits, then please share this article with friends and family.

If these changes effect you, friends or family you should visit www.turn2us.org.uk to get support and help.

York Council tries to clear up £6 million contract confusion

We reported in February that the York Council had let social care contracts worth over £1.3 million pa. We questioned then whether the contracts had been properly advertised, whether they represented value for money and how their success would be monitored.

In a Freedom of Information response, the Council has sought to justify its actions

The number of tenders – advertised through Yortender & OJEU – received for each contract was low.

The details are:

  1. Supported Lodgings – 1 tender. Awarded to Safe and Sound Homes (SASH).
  2. Family Support – 4 tenders. Awarded to The Cyrenians (Community Links) This contract is worth £480,000 over 3 years
  3. Older People and People with Physical Disabilities – 3 tenders. Awarded to Yorkshire Housing Ltd.

In total the tenders are worth £6.6 million over a period of 5 years.

The Council has declined to indicate the value of the individual tenders it received.

All contracts were awarded on 15th September 2016 according to the contracts register. However, the decisions were only published in February 2017 (after the contracts had started). The Council itself says that the contracts were awarded, under delegated authority, by Council officials. The was no member involvement after the Executive meeting on 28th April 2016. The Council claims the awards were decided on the following dates

a) 28th Aug 2016

b) 6th January 2017

c) 15th September 2016

It declines to say why the decisions were not recorded in the decisions register until as long as 4 months later.

It has also declined to make available the minutes of any bodies which considered the contracts nor will it say to which publicly accountable body the outputs against target will be reported.

The required outcomes, for two of the contracts, are expressed only in very general terms. They are more specific for the family support contract (see below)

Contrary to the impression given at the Council’s Executive meeting, the potential service providers were apparently not required to provide their “vision” for the service and its customers.

Bungalows completed at York Glen Lodge extension

Work to extend a City of York Council sheltered accommodation scheme is progressing well with a ‘topping out’ ceremony for the two bungalows which residents will move into later this summer.

Glen Lodge Housing with Extra Care Scheme is being extended as part of the council’s plans to modernise accommodation for older people in the city with 25 new flats and two new bungalows being built.  Accommodation is being designed specifically for the needs of people with dementia.

As well as the proposed extension, the council has already invested in providing the help and support available to residents – known as ‘extra care’ – so it is available to residents 24 hrs a day, seven days a week. This enables even more people with higher care and support needs to live at Glen Lodge.

Whilst the bungalows are being ‘topped out’ work on the 25 flats is progressing well, the main building is at second floor level and first fit electrics are going into the lower floors.  As part of the works the entrance to the existing building will be re-vamped, allowing easier access for friends, relatives and the wider community to enjoy the facilities at Glen Lodge. Planning consent was recently given for the entrance changes and work will take place in the early summer.

Glen Lodge is seeing £4 million of investment to increase and further improve care services for older people. The work is part of the Older People’s Accommodation Programme which aims to give older people more choice and control about the care and support they receive.

‘Take control of your money’ urges new York partnership

York residents can take control of their money for free ahead of changes to benefit payments in the summer, thanks to City of York Council teaming up with South Yorkshire Credit Union Ltd.

Council tenants, private tenants or mortgage holders are welcome to take advantage of the scheme which aims to help people budget, pay essential bills and manage any type of debt or multiple debts.

No-one using the services needs to be an existing customer of the credit union, but is encouraged to open a savings account with a minimum £1 balance to help manage their income and outgoings and so avoid any unnecessary debt.

Anyone wanting help to repay debt will be given tailored advice which could include consolidating any repayments into a single, more manageable account at a lower, fixed interest rate, rather than having to resort to unregulated lenders or loan sharks.

With changes to Universal Credit payments due from July 2017, new applicants could face a delay in payments for six to eight weeks. This new service will help prepare for any predicted shortfalls in income and ensure every day necessities like fuel, mortgage or rent payments are paid for regularly.

The scheme is already tried and trusted by a number of social landlords in the region and some City of York Council tenants are using it too.

The credit union operates on co-operative principles and offers savings and loan products authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority.

Cllr Carol Runciman, executive member with responsibility for financial inclusion at City of York Council, said: “This is a really worthwhile service to residents to help them regain or maintain control of their finances and give access to safer and regulated loans – a much better alternative to doorstep lenders.”