Thank you for your post.
PIP and charges for care
Before increasing the charges that your son has to pay the local authority should have carried out a financial assessment to decide how much he should pay.
The authority should have a financial assessment policy which you are entitled to see and which they should follow when deciding how much your son should pay for his services.
This policy should include information on how to challenge a financial assessment decision. The Care and Support Statutory Guidance (the Guidance) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/care-act-statutory-guidance/care-and-support-statutory-guidance also contains information on how an authority should charge for care in accordance with the Care and Support (Charging and Assessment of Resources) Regulations 2014.
If your son is living in his own home, or with you, then certain things should be disregarded as income when deciding how much he should be charged:
• mobility component of Personal Independence Payment or Disability Living Allowance; and
• Disability related expenses
Annex C of the Guidance gives examples of what can be classed as a disability related expense, although the list is not exhaustive.
Disability related expenses can include expenses such as:
- day or night care which is not being arranged by the local authority, and
- transport costs necessitated by illness or disability, including costs of transport to day centres, over and above the mobility component of DLA or PIP, if in payment and available for these costs. In some cases, it may be reasonable for a council not to take account of claimed transport costs – if, for example, a suitable, cheaper form of transport, for example, council-provided transport to day centres is available, but has not been used
Therefore, if your son is paying for nighttime care, and if he is having to pay for his own transport to his day centre then these should have been taken into account as disability related expenditure.
In addition, a person must be left with a minimum income guarantee, (after disability related expenditure and the disregarded benefit has been taken into account) – there is a statutory minimum which will depend on your son’s circumstances, but the local authority may decide to set a higher minimum income guarantee, details of which should be set out in their financial charging policy.
In accordance with the Care and Support Statutory Guidance (annex C para 34 – 38) the Local Authority is entitled to take into account notional income from benefits that a person could have received but did not apply for – from the date that the person would have been entitled to those benefits. Therefore, if the local authority was satisfied that your son would receive more under PIP than DLA they could charge him as if he were receiving the higher amount, even if he never made the application for PIP.
If the local authority has not carried out your son’s financial assessment taking into account these disregards and the minimum income guarantee then the financial assessment should be challenged.
Often there is a time limit for challenging the charging decision so you should try to obtain a copy of the policy as soon as possible to ensure that you do not miss the deadline.
Paying for transport
If your son was previously receiving transport as part of his care package then the local authority should not change the package to remove the transport element without a new care assessment. Has a new assessment taken place?
I hope that this helps but please get in touch again if you have any further questions.