89-Year-Old To Challenge Day Care Fees

An 89-year-old woman is mounting a legal challenge to Cumbria County Council’s plans to introduce a £10 charge for old folks’ day care. The means-tested charge, due to apply from October, will hit elderly and disabled people who attend day-care centres, but its introduction may be put on hold if the legal challenge is successful.

Nellie Berry, of Grange-over-Sands, is applying for a judicial review of the county council’s decision to bring in the charge. She argues that, as a user of the service, she was not properly consulted. She has the backing of Age Concern Eden and Age Concern South Lakeland.

Valerie Brook, director of Age Concern Eden, said: “Day centres are a vital resource for keeping many frail and older people independent. To introduce such charges without proper consultation is insulting, short sighted and, we believe, unlawful.”

More than 2,700 adults receive day care in Cumbria. The council argues that most local authorities already charge for day care. Means testing should ensure that 30 per cent of users will continue to pay nothing and only 20 per cent will pay the full £10. The council is under financial pressure as a result of losing an equal-pay case concerning 3,000 female workers. It pledges that all the money raised by the new charge will be ploughed back into services.

Jill Stannard, corporate director for adult social care, said: “The county council has acted in a proper manner throughout. No permission has been granted for a judicial review so far. Should this position change, the council is confident that it can present a robust case.”

Carlisle MP Eric Martlew has tabled a parliamentary early day motion critical of the charge. He said: “There is already a great deal of concern and stress. People’s health will deteriorate, as they may not be able to afford to socialise, and in the end it will cost more money as residential care will be needed not simply day care.”