Elderely Feel Pinch As Care Cost Rises

Some of the most vulnerable people in Neath and Port Talbot have been hit with massive hikes in the cost of staying in their own homes.The county council has put up charges for home care by an inflation-busting 25 per cent, from £8 to £10 per hour.

By comparison, in Swansea the rate for home care increased by just 25p, to £8.50 an hour. The city council has also cut the maximum amount for a week’s care from £165 to £150.

Dyffryn councillor Martyn Peters led criticisms of the increase in cost in Neath Port Talbot.

“It’s an attack on the most vulnerable people in our community,” he said.

“These people just can’t afford to pay it, and a lot of them have told me they will be cutting back as a result.”

Home care covers a range of areas, including help with personal care, such as washing and dressing, help with collecting pensions and prescriptions, and with preparing meals. In some cases, support for carers is provided. It aims to help people manage better at home, and keep their independence.

One person badly affected by the hike is Terry Tilley of Stratton Way, Neath Abbey.

Mr Tilley, who is disabled and uses a wheelchair, said: “I rely on home help, but I will have to cut the number of hours they visit me.

“I’m very annoyed and worried about this.

“I think it’s only been a year since they put it up from £6 to £8.

“We are getting ripped off left, right and centre.”

Nigel Thomas’s 89-year-old aunt also has home care.

Mr Thomas, aged 65, of Pontardawe Road, Clydach said: “Elderly service users with modest savings, some of whom have, until now, been paying £640 a month, are having to find a crippling £880 a month.

“Why has the Labour-controlled Neath Port Talbot Council slammed its vulnerable elderly residents with this massive 25 per cent increase – which is six times the rate of inflation?” His aunt, Mrs Thomas, who lives in Pontardawe and was too worried to give her first name, added: “What really hurts is the council has introduced the charge with such callous indifference it makes me feel once you get to a certain age you get to be a problem, and nobody wants to be bothered with you.”

Defending the rise, Tony Clements, the authority’s head of community care services at Neath Port Talbot Council, pointed out the charge was means- tested.

He said: “More than 67 per cent of service users pay no fee at all, or are entitled to a reduction in charges. Those with the lowest income pay the least.

“These costs reflect the Wales average for community care charges.”

Mr Clement also pointed to the authority’s “particularly difficult budget round” this year.

“Revenue income generated by the charges reduces the possibility of having to cut frontline services,” he said.

“The charge continues to be significantly subsidised and does not reflect the true costs of the service.”