People of pensionable age who receive and pay for their care* in Shropshire, are being asked their views on proposals to change the Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG).
MIG refers to the minimum amount of money that a person using adult social care services (other than a care home) must be left with to pay for everyday living costs, after they have contributed to the cost of their care.
People who receive care which is funded by Shropshire Council are supported through a financial assessment to see if they can afford to pay something towards the cost of their care. The council makes sure that any charges to individuals are not more than they can afford, and if a person’s income is very low they are not be charged anything for their care. This financial assessment process protects the people who are most financially vulnerable.
Following a decision from Shropshire Council’s Cabinet on 21 March 2018, it was agreed to ask those affected by MIG, whether the council should retain or reduce the current level of MIG?
The statutory minimum income, set by the Government (for 2018/19) for those of pensionable age, is £189 per week for a single person, and £144.30 per week for a member of a couple.
Whilst the MIG for those of working age has remained in line with the statutory minimum, Shropshire Council’s MIG for people of pensionable age is already set above the Government’s statutory required levels. The current application of MIG means that a single person of pensionable age might be left with £194.50 a week to live on. A member of a couple of pensionable age might be left with £148.50 to live on.
For the past two years Shropshire Council has been able to support people to keep more of their income: however, the council is facing a significant increase in the cost of adult social care. With a growing older population, higher than the national average, and rising social care costs meaning that the cost of adult social care is forecast to increase by an average of 8% per year over the next five years, this equates to £8.3m per year. As demand for services, along with inflation, continues to rise, this gap will continue to grow, unless the council finds ways to fill this funding gap.
As the council cannot afford to keep the amount above the level the Government set, it needs to decide what to do to change the current MIG. The council proposes two options it wants people to consider before they make any final decision. Those options are:
Keep the Minimum Income Guarantee at the level it is now in Shropshire and increase the amount people pay towards their care in line with benefits increases.
It means that the council take a part of the pension increase people receive, but that they would still be left with a weekly amount which is higher than other people of working age who pay towards their care. A single older person getting pension credit would have £7.17 more a week, and the amount they pay towards care would increase by £6.39, leaving them with 76p extra per week.
For couples, they would get £4.43 additional pension and the amount they pay for care would be £4.01 extra, leaving them with 42p more per week. So under option 1 people would not see the benefit of pension increases because they will pay more for care and support.
Option 1 would allow Shropshire Council around an extra £250,000 each year to help towards providing care and support to those who need it most.
Change the level of the Minimum Income Guarantee to the level set by the Government. This will mean people receiving care will have to pay a little more towards their care.
People affected by the changes would keep less of their money because more will go towards care. For example, rather than have 76 pence extra, as in Option 1, a single person will have £4.74 a week less and a couple will have £3.35 a week less.
This option will mean people will have less income than option 1, but it would mean Shropshire Council will have an extra £467,000 each year to help towards providing care and support to those who need it most.
The Minimum Income Guarantee for people of working age is already set at the Government minimum level. Option 2 would mean people of pensionable age are treated in the same way as people of working age.
Lee Chapman, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for health, adult social care and housing, said:
“We understand the challenges and possible impact these proposals can have on people, and it has not been an easy decision to put forward these proposals.
“I would encourage all residents of affected by these proposals to take part in our consultation. We want to find out which option people prefer. Shropshire Council prefers option 2. The council likes option 2 because it is in line with the national level, treats all people the same (whether working age or not), and raises more income to put back into paying for essential council services. But we want to see what others think and whether there is another option. Any changes we make will be subject to a review after three years.
“The views of individuals will be very carefully considered as part of the consultation process before any decisions are made.
“We must stress that we remain committed to supporting our most vulnerable people and we will continue to do everything in our power to protect those affected by any changes to the minimum income guarantee.
“All charges to individuals are based on a financial assessment to ensure we only charge people who can contribute to their care. If a person’s income is very low (below the MIG), they are not charged anything for their care.”
To find out more and take part in the consultation, individuals and carers can click here or go to the ‘Get Involved’ page on Shropshire Council’s website and search “Minimum Income Guarantee – individuals and carers”. Organisations can click here or go to the ‘Get Involved’ page and search “Minimum Income Guarantee – organisations”.
If these proposals affect you and you have any questions or concerns about the potential impact of these proposals, you can call our customer services team on 0345 678 9078, who will be able to provide further information and support. The team can also provide hard copies of the survey if you don’t have access to a computer.
*Pensionable age is an age after which someone can stop working and take a pension.