Partial climb-down on 'sick' care charges

PUBLISHED: 11:53 26 January 2006 | UPDATED: 20:19 03 May 2010

OBJECTORS have won a partial victory in their battle to prevent swingeing increases in the cost of adult care charges. But even though a bid to increase rates for home and day care by 20 per cent was thrown out and replaced by an increase in line with inf

OBJECTORS have won a partial victory in their battle to prevent swingeing increases in the cost of adult care charges. But even though a bid to increase rates for home and day care by 20 per cent was thrown out and replaced by an increase in line with inflation, Herts County Council has agreed to go ahead with removing the exemption to pay for day care for people who receive less than five hours a week. They are also proposing to increase meal and transport charges despite concerns raised about the plight of people on benefits and fixed incomes. The county council went out to consultation on its charging policy for non-residential adult care services in September, maintaining that it was to bring Herts in line with guidance from the Department of Health. But objectors to the proposals believe the real aim is to increase revenue from the service - and despite the changes to the original proposals, the new charges will increase the county council's income by £3.9million. Originally it looked as though the hourly rate for home care would increase from £11.60 to £14 and the day rate to £35 from the current £29.15. But the cabinet backed down in the face of concerns raised about the size of the increase and the impact it would have on users who have managed to save, particularly the elderly. There were worries that people would withdraw from services rather than pay the higher amounts as well as the impact on carers if such a situation arose. The county also agreed to delay removing the exemption for less than five hours of day care a week for people with severe mental illness for the time being. To implement the changes they are proposing to introduce six new staff posts. Campaign St Albans councillor Roma Mills, who has led the campaign against the new charges in the district, said that she had no doubts the increases were all financial and hoped that the additional £5,000 the county council would receive by removing the five-hour exemption from most people was worth it. She added: "The whole exercise has been finance-driven. The issue for me when I read through the guidance from the Department of Health was that you didn't have to do this. "They made it clear that any income should be re-invested in developing adult care services. "They are drilling down into the poorest and most disadvantaged to keep council tax increases down. "I think it is sick, I really do, to start parroting about a fair charge.

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