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Issue:- 24 January 2013

Social care contributions review begins

CONSULTATION is starting in Liverpool, as an over a review of contributions for adult social care takes place.  Charges for social care are set locally under national guidelines issued by the Department of Health. Fairer Contributions is designed to make sure that no groups are disadvantaged by the policy and it treats everyone equally.   The Council is consulting on the following proposals:-

Taking into account individual housing costs when carrying out a financial assessment, rather than the current blanket 10% disregard of the net assessable income. We believe this will more accurately reflect people's financial position and some people will end up paying less

Removing the capped contribution of £222.13 per week on the basis that it disproportionately benefits people with the highest income

Introducing a standard flat-rate charge of £20 per week for services until a financial assessment is completed, to bring Liverpool in line with other local authorities where the average charge is twice as high

Introducing charges for telecare (£2 per week), medication prompts (£2.50 per prompt) and 1 off services such as storage or cleaning

Charging for home care in 15 minute blocks rather than 30 minutes, so people are charged more accurately for the time they receive care for 2 proposals are also being considered for charges to other services such as homecare, community support and day services.

The City Council subsidises services by between 11 and 82%. The options are:- Increasing ALL charges by 3% OR reducing the amount of subsidy and increasing charges for those that currently receive a subsidy of more than 50%

More than half of the 5,407 who receive services; 2,935; are not expected to be affected. A further 2,083 people who already make a contribution are likely to be asked to pay more, and it is thought that 389 people will have to start making a contribution towards their care for the first time.

Assistant Mayor and Cabinet member for Adult Social Care, Councillor Roz Gladden, said:- "I completely understand that any changes to contributions for social care will naturally cause concern, which is why we are going out to consultation. What we are trying to do is make sure that our policy is as fair as it possibly can be. Over half of the people who receive services will not be adversely affected and some people may even end up paying less due to the way in which we assess housing costs. It is also important to remember that the total cost of the service provided is still heavily subsidised by the Council and payments are only a contribution towards the cost of care. We want to make sure we give people all the information that they need and any questions they have which is why we are holding information sessions across the City."

A series of consultation events are taking place from the end of January at which people who receive services, their carers and representatives of other organisations will be able to find out more and ask questions. They are:-

►  Tuesday, 29 January 2013, 2pm to 3.30pm, Reds Suite, Liverpool Football Club.

►  Thursday, 31 January 2013, 2pm to 3.30pm, Reds Suite, Liverpool Football Club.

►  Friday, 1 February 2013, 11am to 12.30pm, Millennium House, Victoria Street, Liverpool City Centre.

►  Tuesday, 5 February 2013, 2pm to 3.30pm, Millennium House, Victoria Street, Liverpool City Centre.

►  Tuesday, 5 February 2013, 5.30pm to 7pm, Millennium House, Victoria Street, Liverpool City Centre.

►  Monday, 11 February 2013, 2pm to 3.30pm, LACE Conference Centre, Croxteth Drive, Sefton Park.

►  Thursday, 14 February 2013, 1pm to 2.30pm, Bridge Chapel Centre, Heath Road, Allerton.

People wishing to attend should contact the Liverpool Cares team on:- 0151 233 2819 or 0151 233 4640, or via sending an email with their name, contact details and their chosen session. People are available to answer calls from 9.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday. Booking is essential as the capaCity of each venue differs. More information is also available at:-

Referendum should be now or never says

NORTH West MEP, Chris Davies response on 23 January 2013, to the Prime Minister's EU speech reads:- "David Cameron's Europe speech means 5 years of uncertainty for investors according to a local Euro-MP. Let's not wait. It should be now or never for an EU referendum and dragging this out just means that businesses won't invest in Britain. Here in the North West we need inward investment to grow our economy and provide jobs and we need that now, not in 2018. If Cameron really wants a referendum he should call it immediately, not after so-called renegotiation about nothing in particular. The Prime Minister raised some valid points about EU reform, but I work to promote improvements for my constituents every day as an MEP. Real reform is achieved by working with our partners, not by making petulant demands. It is achieved by hard work and reasoned argument, not by preaching from a soapbox. David Cameron seems to be more interested in managing the expectations of his own party than he does in fighting for the national interest of the UK. I don't intend to let this obsession of the Westminster bubble get in the way of important issues such as protecting our environment, reforming the Common Fisheries Policy or providing more employment and economic growth. I am just going to get on with the job."   So do you agree with Chris Davies MEP? Let us know your views by emailing us to:-

Carl's sweet dream comes true with his 'Rolls Royce' of pick and mix stands

SWEET toothed shoppers will be able to pick and mix between 200 different types of candy and chocolate thanks to a new Birkenhead business.  Described as the:- 'Rolls Royce of sweet stands' by owner Carl Thompson, The Chocolate Box, in The Grange and Pyramids Shopping Centre, has been nine months in the making and has cost around £50,000 to create. It has also created two new jobs.

The colourful and brightly-lit stall at the top of the escalators in the Pyramids features the full range of traditional lines everybody fondly remembers from their childhood as well as the very latest in tasty confections.  Carl is also proud of the bargain price he is charging for the range of goodies; just 79p for a hearty 100 gram bagful.  Carl, 52, who is originally from Harrogate in West Yorkshire, has had a stall on Birkenhead Market for the past 20 years including a sweet stall for the last 6.

But late last year when a spacious stall site became available in The Grange and Pyramids he decided to snap it up and realise his sweet dream of opening a pick and mix operation too. He said:- "Although I have always done very well with the sweet stall I have on the market, for some time I have also wanted to get into the shopping centre and open a pick and mix. The Chocolate Box has been nine months in the planning stage and we opened just in time for Christmas. Since then, we have been doing very well and the stall is proving very popular with shoppers in the centre. At the moment we are offering 200 different lines of sweets. These include all the traditional favourites, such as sherbert lemons, sweet peanuts, old fashioned fudge, strawberry bon bons, extra strong mints, sugared almonds and blackjacks, but we also have all the latest lines like Haribo, which modern youngsters love."

Derek Millar, Commercial Director for The Grange and Pyramids Shopping Centre, whose favourite sweet is liquorice said:- "The Chocolate Box is a colourful, eye catching and different addition to the shopping centre and we are really pleased to welcome another new business to the centre. Carl has invested significantly with us because he was keen to get a presence in the centre. Everyone loves sweets and I think you would be hard pressed to find a better range anywhere in Birkenhead. Whatever your favourite is, it is more than likely Carl will have it."

Carl, whose son Philip lives in Australia and works in the property market, added:- "The stall, which I spent £40,000 on kitting out and another £8,000 on stocking up, operates on the American model with customers making their selection and then bring it to the till where myself or another member of staff weigh out the bag for them and charge them for it. The whole process takes only about 15 seconds, so it's very convenient. As they make their selection customers can use the scales we provide to keep checking out the bag to make sure they are not getting more than they want. We are also offering a different way for people to serve themselves because, instead of having to lift up a plastic flap to get to the sweets, we have them inside large see-through domes, which customers can just dig into with a little chrome shovel."

Carl added:- "We have spent a lot of time and money to see that The Chocolate Box looks very welcoming and attractive. The colours are vibrant; some would say psychedelic; and there is plenty of light, so people can see what they are doing. You might say we have created the Rolls Royce of sweet stands here at The Grange and Pyramids, where the centre management have also been very helpful and supportive. For me it's a dream come true because I've always wanted a place where I could offer a wide variety of lines on a pick and mix basis. It is my plan to eventually extend the store to 12 metres and that will mean we will be able to offer up to 500 lines of sweets. When that happens will take on extra staff to cope with the expansion. I think we have been so well received by customers here because sweets are quite inexpensive and have a definite feel good factor to them. You might also say that we are a nation of 'sweet-aholics' as Britain spends an incredible £4 billion on confectionery every year."

And Carl's own favourite sweet? He said:- "I'd say the ones I tend to steal are the traditional jellies with a very strong flavour, or the British version of the American jelly bean, because I like to be patriotic."

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