People won’t get care they need – councillor

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A DECISION to increase the cost of home help care for disabled people by a ‘phenomenal’ amount could be overturned.

Suffolk County Council’s scrutiny committee will examine plans to charge those aged under 60 with physical and learning disabilities more towards their contributions for care.

The move could result in an increase of up to £42 in some cases.

Councillors at the meeting on Monday could endorse the decision, refer the decision back to the authority’s cabinet or to full council.

The rate changes apply to new customers but for existing users the increase has been capped to at a maximum of £15.

Labour group leader Sandy Martin, who forced the committee to look at the move, said: “Someone who is earning about £220 was previously paying a very small sum. Now the charge would go up from £3.41 to £46.02, which is a phenomenal increase and percentage of their overall income. They won’t get the care they need because they won’t be able to afford to pay for it.

“We don’t think those points were taken into consideration at all and I don’t think most people realise what’s being proposed.”

Cllr Martin wants the committee to refer the decision back to cabinet and he is being supported by the leader of the Green and Independent group Andrew Stringer.

Cllr Colin Noble, portfolio holder for adult and community services, noted that the authority wrote to more than 6,000 customers about the changes but received a response from fewer than 10 per cent.

He said: “If you are an existing customer we are proposing an absolute maximum increase of £15 towards the cost.

“We think the contribution for the care that’s provided is a fair and reasonable amount. It still leaves them with additional monies.

“This brings us in line with the charging policies of most of our neighbouring authorities. Those who can afford it pay but those who can’t won’t pay.”

The increased charges should bring in an extra £500,000 for the council this year and help the adult and community services department meet its savings target of £12.4 million.