ELDERLY people on Wearside may have to pay more towards their social care.
Thousands of people are being consulted by Sunderland City Council on proposed changes, which could see some paying hundreds of pounds more per week.
The current maximum contribution towards care services, such as home help, is capped at £108.70 per week.
However, under the proposed shake-up to the contributions policy, that cap would be removed and people would be individually assessed as to what they can afford to pay.
This means that 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.
Sunderland City Council is having to make changes due to a shake-up of social care nationally. Those who are in permanent residential care will not be affected.
A public consultation has now been launched among 3,000 people who use the council’s adult social care services, such as home care and day care.
Emily Holzhausen, director of charity Carers UK, said: “The impact of raising care contributions on families can have a pretty devastating effect.
“These are costs that people have planned for and it comes as a great shock that they have to look at paying more for this.”
Sunderland Council has sent a questionnaire to people receiving care services and personal budgets, which are used to pay the cost of care.
The proposed changes come just weeks after the council announced it is axing the Meals at Home service.
Coun Dave Allan, the councillor responsible for health and wellbeing, said: “In light of recent changes to social care nationally, in particular the introduction of personal budgets, we need to consider how we change our systems.
“Sunderland City Council is committed to the implementation of personalisation into adult social care.
“Personal Budgets allow people to choose the services they want, and when and where they want to receive them.”
The Government is currently pushing more people to manage their own personal budget. By 2013 it is expected that all people with a social care need will be directing their own support.
The council is this week meeting with organisations including Age UK and Sunderland Carers’ Centre to discuss the changes.
Coun Allan is calling on those who will be affected to get take part in the consultation and give their views.
Sunderland Conservative leader Coun Robert Oliver said: “I would encourage everyone who receives care to take part in the consultation exercise so that their views are heard and the service is tailored to the needs of Sunderland residents.”
The consultation period runs until 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.