The cost of day care services 'could double'
9:11am Tuesday 25th September 2012 in News
The cost of day care services for the elderly could double over the next two years in the latest attempt by Bolton Council to make massive spending cuts.
The authority is launching a consultation on plans to increase the cost of meal deliveries, day services and transport for up to 2,000 elderly and vulnerable adults across the borough.
The proposed increases would see the cost of meal deliveries rise from £3 to £3.50 by April next year.
The cost to use Bolton Council ’s day care centre would rise from £10 per day to £15 in April, 2013, and £20 the following year.
The move would affect all six of the council’s centres — Thicketford House and Firwood in Tonge Moor , the Winifred Kettle centre in Westhoughton , Alderbank in Kearsley and Horwich and Little Lever day centres.
The centres provide a range of services from physical exercise, social events and personal care services such as baths.
Under the plans, transport costs to and from day centres would also rise from £3 per round trip to £3.50 in April, 2013 and £4 in 2014.
The increases would save the council an estimated £100,000 over the next two years, and are being planned as part of its efforts to slash overall spending by £35.6 million before 2015.
The average state pension is now £124 per week, but people on the lowest incomes would still continue to pay nothing for services.
The services are heavily subsidised by the council, and even though service users currently pay £10 per day to attend a day centre, the cost to the authority can be between £30 and £47 a day, while meals cost the council £6 and transport costs £8.70.
Stockport currently charges £4.50 for meals, Wigan charges £3.85, while Tameside charges £2.56.
Rochdale charges £7.50 to attend a day centre, while Salford charges £44.
Under government regulations many elderly and vulnerable adults now have a “personal budget”, which they can spend on services, rather than money being paid directly to the council on their behalf. According to the council there are currently 3,000 people in Bolton using home and day care services, but 1,000 do not pay because they are on low incomes and would be unaffected by any increase.
The authority says the alternative to increasing charges would be to cut services.
Gareth Evans, chief officer at Age UK Bolton, said: “It’s regrettable, but the local authority faces difficult choices.
“I think that, to be fair to them, they have held on to other support services when quite honestly a lot of local authorities haven’t.
“It isn’t good news for some service users but it has to be looked at in the full context and Bolton Council is still continuing to provide services to some of our most vulnerable members, but there’s a price to pay for that.”
He added: “The introduction of the personal budget was a good thing in some ways, but it’s not always easy for some elderly people to organise their spending.”
Deputy council leader Cllr Linda Thomas, who is in charge of Bolton’s adult social care services, said the move was forced by overnment cuts. She said: “While the council will continue to subsidise substantially, this means that a staggered increase in charges for these services will be introduced over a two-year period.
“The additional income generated by the increased charges will result in the department avoiding a further £100,000 of cuts.
“The proposed charges, and the impact they may have, will be shared with service users.
“Those people on the lowest incomes, who do not currently pay towards the cost of their care, will not be affected.”