Plaid Cymru Councillor Arfon Jones has expressed concern over the Government’s Green Paper to scrap Attendance Allowance and include it into a grant to local authorities to pay for social care. The change would afffect more than 4,000 people in Wrecsam alone and more than 100,000 throughout Wales.
Attendance Allowance is a non-means tested benefit paid to over 65s and is paid to those who need care and supervision due to illness or disability. There are two rates the highest rate is currently £70.35 a week and the lower rate is £47.10.
Councillor Arfon Jones, who is also the Plaid Cymru prospective parliamentary candidate for Wrecsam, said:
“There is a danger that those older people who are eligible for Attendance Allowance but not Social Care are likely to lose out. We already know that our older people receive less pension and other benefits than others in Europe, this will only make their situation worse.”
He added that providing extra social care is important but
"finding the funding from benefits being paid to pensioners is robbing Peter to pay Paul - it is not the answer."
Cllr Jones added:
“This will increase poverty and deprivation amongst the elderly who have moderate disabilities and it will reduce their independence and choice on how they choose to spend their disability benefits. If this proposal goes ahead it will increase considerably the number of people that Local Authorities will have to care for.”
Cllr Jones said the situation in Wales is blurred and confused, there has already been a consultation in Wales - Paying for Care - and there has been the Wanless Report in England on which the Green Paper is based. He said:
"The question needs to be asked what happens if Wales decided on a different way to pay for care as it is their right as social care is a devolved matter. On the other hand welfare benefits is a Westminster responsibility and the Welsh Assembly Government has no say over it.
"Welsh pensioners deserve clarity on this matter and that means having devolved control of the system rather than the current piecemeal situation."