Cost of care set to rocket in East Lothian as council increases charges

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Vulnerable and elderly residents in East Lothian will have to pay more for services including meals, community alarms and transport after plans to increase fees were approved.

East Lothian councillors gave the go-ahead for plans to scrap some subsidies, increase charges and raise the percentage of disposable income which people will be asked to pay towards their care for non-residential services.

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The move will mean the cost of community alarms will go up over the next three years as the current 30 per cent subsidy is gradually removed and the threshold for the percentage of income the council can take from users will go up from 60 per cent to 75 per cent.

Councillors also agreed a 10 per cent increase in charge for Care at Home, and transport and a six per cent increase for resource centres and transport to and from the facilities.

They have also scrapped the £50 board and lodgings disregard applied to people who live with family and or friends and  the subsidy for frozen meals.

Councillors were told that the cost of community alarms had risen sharply after they moved from analogue to digital and the current subsidy was no longer ‘financially sustainable’.

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There are currently 2,141 alarms in service, with approximately 80 per cent of users paying towards the cost which currently stands at £4.05 a week. Under the new reduced subsidy it will rise to £4.50 this year and up to £5.80 by 2026 to 2027.

Councillor Shamin Akhtar said it was important the local authority monitored the impact of the increased charges on the alarm service moving forward. She said: “Community alarms make a huge difference in people’s lives allowing them to live at home with dignity and respect. We want to support people to live in their own homes as long as possible.”

A spokesperson for East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership which oversees the services said: “East Lothian, along with the majority of other councils in Scotland, apply charges for the delivery of some non-residential community care services.  These charges are an important source of income and are a means to support the delivery of social care services and policy aims.

“The income generated from these charges is reinvested into maintaining and developing these services for the future.

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“The results of these amendments to the policy will mean the individuals who are assessed as being able to afford to pay for (certain) social care services will be required to do so.

“However, the policy also outlines the numerous protections in place, as well as the appeals process, to ensure paying for services does not put any individual at risk of financial hardship.”

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