Social Services Cost Increase Triggers Clash

A Carmarthenshire Council executive has defended his decision to increase charges for social services after being criticised by a fellow councillor.

Kevin Madge, the executive board member for health and social care, announced the cost for services such as respite care, home care, meals on wheels and transport are set to increase by nearly four per cent later this year.

Councillor Peter Hughes Griffiths condemned the move as penalising the most vulnerable people in society, saying: “This is another financial attack on the most needy and those who rely on care and support – it is not acceptable.” Councillor Griffiths also criticised Councillor Madge for making the decision without discussing it with the full council – something he is entitled to do under council rules.

Councillor Madge maintained he had taken a difficult decision between raising cost or cutting services after the county received a disappointing budget from the Assembly.

He said: “The Assembly only gave us a 2.8 per cent increase in our budget.

“I have got to work with what the council gives me and there is such a demand for social services in Carmarthenshire. We have one of the highest elderly populations in the country – in the next 20 years, a quarter will be over 85.

“Fuel costs have gone through the roof, food prices are soaring, but these cost have to be met. Is Councillor Griffiths saying I should close day centres and cut services? In my opinion, my job is to protect these services.

“As for attacking the executive decision-making process, this has been in place for the past four years, so why is he complaining now?

“You are allowed to call this decision in for further scrutiny, but he failed to do so. He is just trying to score points before May’s election.”