Page last updated at 18:24 GMT, Tuesday, 30 June 2009 19:24 UK

Care charge to be capped at 50

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The assembly government has announced plans to introduce a charge cap of 50 week for homecare

The price many people pay for personal care at home and day centres is set to fall under assembly government plans.

Deputy Social Services Minister Gwenda Thomas proposed a £50 cap on the weekly fees local councils can charge, to reduce wide variations across Wales.

Neath Port Talbot has a maximum weekly charge of £200 per person while in Rhondda Cynon Taff it is only £16.20.

Around 14,000 people in Wales pay for such care services, including help with cooking and getting dressed.

Mrs Thomas told assembly members "this unequal treatment of users has the potential to be unfair and inequitable".

She pledged to introduce a "fair" system that was "simpler to understand, cost effective to administer and reduces the charging burden" on vulnerable people.

She said the plans would allow Welsh ministers to ensure there was more consistency in the type of services which could be charged for, who could be charged, how people's financial situation is measured and the "standard or maximum charge".

'Most vulnerable'

"Authorities will not be obliged to charge and will continue to be able to decide not to charge at all, or to charge less than any requirement in the legislation," Mrs Thomas added.

Councils would be banned from charging for transport to day centres as part of the plans.

They would also not be allowed to include income from the constant attendance allowance or severe disablement allowance when making financial assessments to see who should pay any fees.

The Conservatives said they welcomed "any measures to safeguard the needs of the most vulnerable" but warned it was vital the plans were properly funded.

Health spokesman Andrew RT Davies said: "I've asked the minister to give me an indication of the likely cost of implementing this measure and whether the assembly government has funds ring-fenced to do this.

"I would also like the minister to be specific on the fine details of this measure."

The costs and funding of the plans will be considered as part of a consultation and impact assessment.

The new regulations are unlikely to come into force before 2011.



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