Council's care price hike will have 'adverse impact' for thousands of people across Hertfordshire
Thousands of people receiving adult care will have to start paying more for services to help raise Â£2million of savings.
Herts County Council says it ‘no longer has the choice’ to keep some of the services free unless radical changes are made in how adult social care is funded.
Up to 400 of the ‘most vulnerable’ people will have to contribute more for their Disability Living Allowance, a decision that executive member for adult care Councillor Colette Wyatt-Lowe said ‘broke her heart’.
Residents will now also have to fork out for second carers, flexi-care services for people living in sheltered or assisted accomodation, telecare technology helping independent living, while transport to day care services will double in price.
Cllr Wyatt-Lowe said: “The Adult Care Services (ACS) department at the county council has a strong history of continuing to deliver care and support services to the most vulnerable in our communities.
“We have managed this without asking people who use care and support services to pay any more for over seven years; sadly we now find ourselves in a situation where we no longer have a choice but to change that policy from April 2018.”
Roughly 9,600 people receive a community-based care service from Herts County Council, and now face the prospect of paying more out of their pockets for the same services.
More than 2,000 people replied to a consultation on the proposals, which are now set to be agreed at a council cabinet meeting next month.
Cllr Wyatt-Lowe added: “There is no doubt that this will impact some residents adversely, and we have done everything we can to understand this impact
“We have arrived at this junction with a lot of heart searching as we realise that this may make life difficult for some residents for whom life is difficult already.
“We do not take this change in policy lightly, and will be working hard to ensure that we are sensitive and helpful as the changes are made.”
The original proposals were to save £4.5m, but Cllr Wyatt-Lowe said that amendments had been made to bring that figure down to £2m.
Changes to be implemented include the cost of transport to day care services doubling from £2 per journey to £4 per journey.
A previously free ‘telecare’ service – using technology such as monitors and sensors to enable independent living – will now cost users £3.25 a week.
And the council also loses its record as the only authority in the country not to pay for a second carer if it’s needed to deliver a service.
Cllr Wyatt-Lowe added: “We have always been very generous in how we interpret the guidelines in relation to charging for services as we appreciate the adults we are supporting are the most vulnerable in our community.
“We were the only county to have never charged for the second carer for our double handed care visits, even though we incur a charge for this. Sadly now we will have to charge for that.
“For those people using a service who have real difficulty with regards to the new charges, we will be offering a new financial assessment and we will help them.”