Users upset at council plans to increase charges
PLANS to increase charges for meals at home, day care, home care and transport have been described as "disgraceful" by some members of Nottingham's elderly community.
Although most of these charges will be means-tested, Nottingham Elders' Forum has warned the price hikes will still hit pensioners hard.
'Words fail me': Glenise Martin is angry about the charges.
Picture: DAN MATTHAMS NODA20101117C-217_C
Glenise Martin, 73, secretary of the forum, said: "The worst-hit pensioners are those that have actually saved and they are just above the criteria for getting benefits. They are the worst off, it's not people on benefits, it's the people in between and ones who have worked hard and saved."
The council only approved plans to introduce a £2 charge for day centres this year– and these plans are still being rolled out.
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But now a £3.50 charge could be introduced within the financial year – in January – following consultation.
The council also increased home care and meals-on-wheels charges by three per cent at the beginning of the financial year.
"Words fail me, I don't know how they've got the nerve to put it up when the charges have only just been implemented," said Ms Martin.
"It's absolutely disgraceful, the vulnerable are hit every single time.
"If they've got to pay for transport and day care that's £7.50 and that's a lot for people when you get older."
But Labour Councillor Graham Chapman, deputy leader at the city council, said it is necessary due to Government cuts being much larger than predicted when the council set this year's budget.
He said: "The cuts are beyond what we expected and we've got additional older people coming onto the system, which will cost us £1.3m."
The council runs 15 day centres, the majority of which are for older people but there are also some for people with physical and learning disabilities.
Home care, day care and transport charges are subject to financial assessment set by the Government and known as Fairer Charging.
Councillor Eunice Campbell, the city council's portfolio holder for adult services and health, said: "The Fairer Charging criteria ensures that those who receive social care are not asked to contribute more than they can afford to pay for the services they receive.
"The assessment looks at a person's financial resources to ensure that his or her contribution is fair."
She said that about 40 per cent of Nottingham residents will not be expected to pay the costs of their social care.
Dennis Andrews, chairman of the elders' forum, said: "They'll put up the charges to such a level it will reduce the use of these day centres so then they can come along and close them because they're not being used."
Unison spokeswoman Jean Thorpe said: "The city council is trying to pass on its own financial problems to some of Nottingham's most vulnerable people. Unison, alongside community organisations, will be campaigning against these proposals."
And city council Liberal Democrat councillor Tony Sutton said the price hikes will "severely impact people".
"We've always talked about protecting frontline services and these are the frontline services that will have a massive impact on people's lives," he said.