Norfolk Pensioner’s Care Bill Rockets Five Fold

Norfolk Social Services are investigating how a wheelchair-bound widow’s care bill rocketed five fold. West Norfolk pensioner June Dearman, has suffered from Multiple Sclerosis for more than 40 years and was shocked to be told of the vastly increased bill following her annual assessment.

The 73-year-old from West Lynn had been paying £34 each month towards carers who help her in and out of bed and provide meals each day.

But after a routine re-assessment she was informed by Norfolk County Council the same nursing would now set her back £198 a month.

Mrs Dearman said: “I do not mind paying and I knew it was going to go up a bit, but it was such a big jump in my money. I only have a pension and that does not give you much to live on. I have MS and I need a lot of help.”

Harold Bodmer, director of adult social services at Norfolk County Council visited Mrs Dearman to talk through the changes and to see if they could mitigate the bill in anyway.

He said although such large increases were not common, a new central charging system had meant people had had increased care bills.

“What I was very sorry about was that she received a large increase in her bill and that caused her distress”, he said, “There are things we can off set against the bill.”

Mr Bodmer added: “Our aim is to make our charging policy for home care services fair and consistent, wherever people live in the county.

“Every year, we undertake a review of people’s charges – based on their ability to pay and the cost of the service. And to make sure people are being charged as fairly and consistently as possible, we now assess Disability Related Expenses centrally, rather than by district.

“While this has meant that some people have seen an increase in the amount they are expected to contribute, others have seen a reduction. Any new charges take careful consideration of people’s ability to meet these costs.

“If people have concerns about their charges, we are happy to work with them to make sure they are claiming all the benefits they are entitled to, to help meet their costs. If people feel their case has not been assessed correctly, they also have the right to appeal. In all cases, we try to be as helpful as we possibly can.”