Newcastle social care charges to rise today

VULNERABLE adults who rely on social care services will be hit by price rises coming into force today. People in Newcastle face bigger bills for home helps and visits to day care centres as the city council introduces new charges.

The changes were agreed by councillors in March and all those affected by the increases should have received a letter explaining the new charges, which will see some adults who attend day care centres pay more than double their current amount.

Battling to make savings as it tries to plug funding gaps left by Government cuts, the council estimates it can save £900,000 per year by asking people who can afford to pay for their care to do so.

All bills are based on the financial circumstances of the individual. Anyone concerned their situation has been incorrectly assessed is urged to seek advice.

The council said many people will still benefit from the services for free and it has capped the weekly increase at £30.

Executive director of adult and culture services Ewen Weir said: “These changes are necessary to make sure that we can continue to provide and commission quality services for those who need them the most and that our charging structure is robust and ready for the introduction of personal budgets.

“The vast majority of people who currently receive vital services for free will continue to do so and we estimate that of those who currently pay, three-quarters will pay less than £10 a week extra.

“We know that the people affected will be among the city’s most vulnerable and we don’t want anyone to worry unnecessarily.

“That’s why we’re urging everyone affected, including parents, family and carers, to talk to their social worker who will provide simple, clear and reassuring advice.”

The maximum contribution towards a care package is going up to £200 from the current £150 ceiling, but a minimum income guarantee will ensure people are left with an income equal to their income support or pension, plus an extra 25%.

Coun Kevin Graham, cabinet member for adult services, said: “Any changes to care charges can be worrying, but it’s important to realise that there is support out there. I’d urge anyone with any concerns to get in touch with the council to discuss their situation in detail.”

Anyone worried about a possible increase in charges should speak to their social worker or contact the council’s charging team on 0191 211 6320.