Council blames cuts as disabled woman’s day care costs go up by 300%

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A WOMAN has hit out after the cost of a day care unit which her disabled sister uses will more than treble.

Wendy Campbell has been going to Washington’s Multi-Purpose Centre, now called Washington Community Resource Centre, in Oxclose, for more than 30 years.

It is one of the few times the 59-year-old, who has special needs, gets out of her Columbia home each week, giving her the chance to interact with other people.

She pays just over £20 a week to use the service, which she visits twice a week, to be taught life skills and enjoy activities such as painting.

However, a letter has been sent out to say that each week’s visit will cost more than £87.

Wendy’s sister and her principal carer Liz Jardine, 54, labelled the rise as “shocking”, but council chiefs today blamed the charges on £100million Government cuts.

They added that the cost of the service is based on the user’s ability to pay.

Speaking about the increase, Liz said: “Wendy’s had to start paying more in recent years, but she got a letter saying it will go up from £21.74 per unit to £86.82.

“It’s going to be an extra £200 or £300 a month, which she can’t afford.

“We are not greedy and we are not asking for a lot. We just think it is unfair.

“Disabled people are paying the price for these cuts and I think it’s shocking.”

Liz added that she is also concerned about falling numbers using the centre each week and the knock-on effect that could have.

“I’m frightened about the future of the centre now,” she said. “There used to be 300 people going there at one time, but now it’s down to about 50, and that’s because of the rise in costs.

“I don’t want us to get two years down the line and we can’t save it.

“The place is a real lifeline for Wendy and the other people who use it, some of them are in their 70s.”

Coun Graeme Miller, portfolio holder for health, housing and adult services, said: “Over the last few years, the council has been required to find efficiencies of more than £100million due to severe Government cuts.

“As part of its response, a review of the charging policy was undertaken in April 2012. This was also required in relation to the Government’s introduction of personal budgets for those receiving care.

“This uses national guidance to calculate a person’s contribution towards the costs of their care and support arrangements. The amount an individual is asked to contribute is based on their ability to pay.

“Great efforts have been made to ensure that the system is fair and that no-one is asked to contribute more than they have been assessed as being able to afford, with more than 50 per cent of service users assessed as being unable to afford to make any contribution towards their care costs.

“The policy is also in line with the Department of Health’s Fairer Charging Guidance.

“Following widespread consultation, this scheme has been implemented over the last two years and the majority of people affected have been financially reassessed against the new contributions policy.

“Anyone who believes they are unable to pay the assessed charge can request a review by contacting the Benefits and Assessment Team.”