CHARITY bosses have criticised proposals which could see pensioners paying hundreds of pounds more per week for social care.
It is feared up to 3,000 elderly Wearsiders could be hit by the changes being considered by Sunderland City Council.
The proposed shake-up to the contributions policy would remove a maximum cap of £108.70.
Instead, people would be individually assessed as to what they can afford to pay.
Some people could end up paying up to £407 towards their “personal budget”, which is equivalent to the current maximum cost of a residential care placement per week when funded by the local authority.
Age UK Sunderland, which met with civic centre leaders to discuss the changes, have said they want the council to rethink them.
The Government wants more people to manage their own personal budget and by 2013 it is expected that all people with a social care need will be directing their own support.
In a statement, Age UK Sunderland said: “We fear the consequences of such a proposal being approved.
“It would seriously damage the quality of life for thousands of older people and it would have a very negative effect on those accessing social care.
“It would make people think twice about asking for help, and have the effect of rationing social care and it would dramatically increase the pressure on carers and families.”
Alan Patchett, director of Age UK Sunderland, based in Stockton Road, said: “As an organisation we are contributing to the consultation.
“And I am writing to the leader of the council and the executive director of Health, Housing and Adult Services as well as every councillor to express my grave concerns about these proposals.
“I would urge everyone to do the same.”
The consultation period ends on December 19.
A link to the online questionnaire is available at www.sunderland.gov.uk/contributions.
People can also fill in the questionnaire by calling the council’s Benefits and Assessment Team on 566 1850.