Audit Scotland has questioned significant variations in charging policies across Scottish local authorities, who raise over £1.3bn a year from charging for services. Their Charging for Services: are you getting it right? report points out that those in receipt of services may find substantial variations in pricing “inconsistent, confusing, or unfair” and recommends that councils are transparent in explaining how they arrive at their figures. For example charges for adult day care services range from being free of charge to £34.98 per day and home care services from £8.56 to £23.70 per hour.
While accepting the need for councils to be able to charge for certain services, the Commission warns that they should be careful that charging decisions do not impact on other policy priorities and that they should not attempt to generate profits from charges that will not be reinvested in the service in question.
The report also recommends that councillors take a lead role in any decision-making over charging policies.