Elderly Carer Faces 900% Hike In Care Fees

An elderly carer has warned that a massive hike of more than 900 per cent in some social care bills in West Sussex could force vulnerable people to cancel the help they desperately need. Sid Ward, a 73-year-old pensioner from Haywards Heath who is a full time carer to his disabled wife Kathleen, said: “For the last two years I have been paying £111.72p a month for two or sometimes one person to come in the morning and at night to help me. “But now I’ve received a letter from West Sussex County Council’s Financial Services Department telling me the cost will go up to £1084.20p a month – that’s £250.20 a week. I’m cancelling the help I get because I can’t afford it.”

Mr Ward added: “The increase is out of all proportion to the service we’re getting. My wife is in a wheelchair and I am her full-time carer.

“I’m in my 70s and fortunately I’m in good health but there must be other people who have received similar letters who are not and they will no longer be able to cope.”

He said the massive hike in charges, which is being phased in from the end of this month, applies to people who have savings in excess of £21,000.

“The Government is always telling young people they must save for their retirement but if you do you are penalised,” he said.

Mr Ward has notified his MP Nicholas Soames of the increase and says when he contacted the council he was told that 340 letters had been sent out to residents in a similar situation across West Sussex.

Charles Boughton-Leigh, who runs the Age Concern Day Centre in Haywards Heath, said: “Elderly people on fixed incomes are so used to prices like the Council Tax going up and up they have lost the will to fight. We are trying desperately hard to keep people in their own homes and we are making sure we provide as much advice and help as we can.”

A council spokesman said: “The county council has been forced to change the way it charges for home care and day care because of the Government¹s continuing low grant settlements and the need to bring the county council into line with neighbouring authorities who are already making similar charges.

“Upon hearing that Mr Ward was planning to cancel his wife’s care package West Sussex County Council Adult Services contacted him immediately to offer help and advice about the options available.

“If the county council had not made these changes, adult services would have had to make cuts in services to deal with the shortfall in funding.”