More OAPs to pay for care

MORE elderly and vulnerable people are set to have to pay for care from April next year after county chiefs gave the nod to a controversial charging shake-up.

MORE elderly and vulnerable people are set to have to pay for care from April next year after county chiefs gave the nod to a controversial charging shake-up.

Currently up to 90 per cent of people in the county requiring care at home get it for free but bosses at Suffolk County Council estimate more charging for services could generate upwards of £1.5million a year for council coffers.

The changes will mean only around 45 per cent of the current 4,000 people requiring care at home will continue getting it for free.

Graham Newman, portfolio holder for adult and community services, told The Evening Star the additional charges are necessary to balance the books.

He said: “It is fair to say that in an ideal world, these are not changes we would choose to make.

“However, this is the position that the Labour government has put us in by consistently reducing the amount of money that it gives us year on year.

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“It has deliberately placed councils in a position where they have no option but to introduce these charges, and for the opposition to suggest otherwise is just unrealistic.”

Critics claim the shake-up will have an adverse impact on the old and vulnerable.

The county council's Labour group revealed it has issued a “call in” on the Tory administration's plans which means the changes will have to be justified at a full meeting of the council.

Bryony Rudkin, Labour spokeswoman for adult care and community services, said: “The Labour group will continue to oppose this smash and grab on the incomes of the county's old and vulnerable at every stage.

“Labour introduced the current free home care scheme which benefits the vast majority of people in the county and we will do all we can to try to stop the Conservatives destroying it.

“Ignoring public opinion, cutting care to the elderly and wasting hundreds of thousands on new systems - how much longer will the Conservatives force this shambolic idea on the people of Suffolk?"

Speaking about the decision, Liberal Democrat group leader, Kathy Pollard, said: “The Conservatives have clearly been planning to implement their 'tax on care' all along, regardless of the results of the public consultation.

“This scheme is designed to make them £1.5 million in 2008-2009 alone.

“They claim their intention is to help people claim all the benefits they are entitled to, but they make less noise about the fact that this is just to ensure that they can charge as many people as possible for care services.”

FOR Joe Cassidy, changes which meant he might have to pay for the care he received were nearly catastrophic.

The 76-year-old of Baldrick Close, Copdock, was suffering severely from depression when he first went to the Foxhall Day Care Centre in Ipswich.

But thanks to the work of staff he was able to get his life back on track and learn new skills such as arts and crafts, until it was announced that the service would no longer be free.

Mr Cassidy, who has four children, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, said: “In April 2006 they said the system had changed and I'd have to pay more money, so I said I'd have to give it up.

“At that time I was going two days a week and was only paying for dinner, with social services paying for the rest.

“Thankfully I managed to get some help and now get to go once a week paying just for dinner.

“But the changes meant some people had to give it up.”

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