203Councillors are to be asked to launch a consultation on proposals to change the way some people who receive social care services are financially assessed.

The aim is to bring the council broadly into line with a number of local authorities in the North East with regards to people who receive Severe Disability Premium (SDP) payments.

On March 16 members of Durham County Council’s cabinet will hear proposals to review the current system.

The suggestion is that people newly in receipt of SDP, and who require non-residential care, undergo the same assessments as people who do not receive the payment.

That could mean some people will pay less, while others may be asked to contribute more towards their care.

However anyone already receiving both SDP and non-residential care would see no change to their financial assessments and they would be fully protected.

If agreed, the proposals could be phased in so that most of the people who could be affected would be on the new system by 2020.

At a time when Durham County Council must find a further £104.4m in savings by 2020, on top of the £153.2m it has already found since 2011, the new arrangement is projected to save the authority around £1m over the next four years.

If agreed a consultation seeking the views of the public, including disability charities, and community and voluntary groups, would begin on 4 April and run until 26 June.

Based on responses a further report could then be presented to Cabinet in September, with any changes potentially introduced from October 2016.