"My needs haven’t changed but my care package has been reduced."

Changing your care package means changing your care plan, in other words changing the amount or type of support that is provided to meet your assessed needs.  To do this there must be a reassessment, and the changes must be written into your care plan and care assessment documentation, otherwise any cut to your support will be unlawful. Read more information about assessments.

Once a reassessment has been done, whether or not they can make your care package cheaper depends on the change. If your care package includes support provided by a third party such as a care agency or day centre, the local authority can change to a cheaper provider, if it will still meet your eligible assessed needs. You can ask them not to make the change if you think it will cause you hardship (for example, because you need to stay with staff who know you really well).

If you get direct payments, the local authority may say that you do not need as much money in your direct payment because there is a cheaper way you could meet your assessed needs. For example, there may be a cheaper provider you could use. 

That doesn’t mean you have to use the cheaper provider. With direct payments you can choose how to arrange care to meet your needs. But it may limit the amount of money you get so you can no longer do it in the way that you prefer.

If the cheaper service will not meet your eligible assessed needs, it's not OK. It's important to have a reassessment to raise these issues. You can then point out each way the change will affect you and the worst things that may happen as a result. 

To work out whether the cheaper service will meet your eligible needs, you need to think about the ‘outcomes’ that the support is supposed to help you to achieve. These outcomes will be recorded in your care plan, linked to particular needs that you need support for. If the change means that you will no longer be able to achieve those outcomes, and as a result there is likely to be a significant impact on your well-being, then you can argue that the change will not meet your eligible needs. Read information about eligibility.

Real life example – the retired ballerina

A few years ago a retired ballerina received support from a carer to manage her toileting needs at night time. Her local authority changed her care package to make it cheaper. Instead of having support to get to the toilet, she was given incontinence pads. At the time the courts decided that this was a lawful way of meeting her eligible need for personal care, as long as there was a proper reassessment before introducing the change.

But the new eligibility criteria introduced in the Care Act 2014, mean that if you have a need for support with toileting, you might (for example) have an outcome specified in your care plan that (with support) you will be able to manage your toileting needs by getting to the toilet, rather than wearing incontinence pads. It's important to describe the outcome in a way that shows how it promotes your well-being. If this outcome was in your care plan, then a reduction  to your support that prevents that outcome should not take place. If this outcome was in your care plan, then the local authority should not replace night-time support with incontinence pads.

If they go ahead and make a change which stops you from having your eligible needs met, you can complain. 

How to complain about a reduction in your care package

Any reduction in your care package which leads to your assessed needs not being met is unlawful. You can remind your social worker of this. For example, you may receive support to help you take part in daily activities such as shopping and going to the library. If they suggest that you don’t need this support because you could read at home and or have shopping delivered, explain that your assessment says you need help because going out into the community and having support to do things yourself keeps you active and prevents you getting depressed. Explain that as you are capable of doing things yourself with support, it's vital to your well-being that you continue to be able to do so.

If the changes mean you will get a worse service, or affect your health, spell out what you think will happen.

• Do the changes affect your well-being, including your personal dignity?
• Do they make family life much harder?
• Prevent you from being able to get out into the community for work, learning or to socialise?
• Or risk causing your health and well-being to deteriorate? This may be, for example, because being physical inactive will cause problems with your muscles and mobility.

You have a legal right to respect for your private and family life. If possible, get advice about how to include this in your complaint - see Find help.

You may have rights under the Equality Act. Local authorities have a duty to promote equality of opportunity for disabled people. This should affect every decision they make. The changes should not stop you working or studying. They shouldn’t mean you have fewer opportunities than non-disabled people. If they do, find help.