Headlines: September 20th, 2010

Budget cuts by councils are likely to result in higher charges for older peoples’ services and eligibility criteria will be tightened. These are the main findings from a survey by Counsel and Care, a national charity working with older people.

The charity surveyed 56 councils across the country during August 2010. The results provide a snapshot of charging policies and eligibility for services during this period. Six of the councils surveyed said that they are considering increases to home care charging. A further four are known to be already consulting on raising charges.

Of the councils surveyed, the highest hourly rate charged now sits at £19.70 an hour. Currently 20 councils charge more than £14 an hour, with 12 charging more than £15 an hour for essential home care. Two councils are currently consulting on removing or increasing the maximum weekly charging level that they had previously set for home care per week. This is despite the highest rate now reaching £454.78 per week.

Stephen Burke, Chief Executive, Counsel and Care, said: “We are extremely concerned about the knock-on effects such increases in charges will have on the quality of life for older people and their carers. If these short-sighted plans are put into action, the impact will be felt first by the most vulnerable, who will have to go without vital care and support and then on acute health services as people are forced to reach crisis point before they get help.”