‘Outrageous’ Charge Rise To Hit The Elderly

Frail old people and disabled adults are to be hit with a 132 per cent increase in home care charges. Labour-run Lambeth council is to ramp up charges for services such as meals on wheels and home help from £7.55 an hour to £17.50.

It means housebound pensioners and disabled people will have to pay on average around £600 a month for carers to visit their home for just over an hour a day. Lambeth provides the service to almost 1,800 vulnerable people.

Opposition councillors have slammed the plan to increase charges, which is contained in the council’s provisional budget for 2007/2008.

Liberal Democrat councillor Roger Giess said: “This is an outrageous hike in charges for services to thousands of vulnerable people. Labour councillors are shame-lessly saying they want the charge to be so high that people stop asking the council for help. That’s just wrong. Pensioners and disabled people will be outraged that the Labour council wants to charge them more for their care than the council has to pay for the service.

“The council expects to pay the private agencies that provide carers around £13.50 per hour of standard home care provided and yet it intends to charge the people that receive that care £17.50.”

But Lambeth’s cabinet member for heath and adult services, Labour councillor Donatus Anyanwu, has defended the proposal. Cllr Anyanwu said: “It was a very tough decision. I did not come into politics to take services away from people, I came into politics to make sure people are looked after. But because of the financial situation we have to look at who is most eligible to receive help on the basis of who is most in need.

“More than 90 per cent of people who need care will receive benefits to pay for the service and we’re going to make sure everyone is receiving the benefits they’re entitled to. There is no question of us profiting from the provision of care packages. I have told officers to make sure people only pay for the service they receive.”