Euan McGrory: Who will pay for decent social care?

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Charging for people with learning disabilities to use council-run day centres will be anathema to many people.

Most families affected by the move will probably find the £2 per session fee being introduced in East Lothian relatively easy to cover. Some regular users, however, might find it a little harder.

What will cause wider concern is the underlying principle of levying fees on services used by some of the most vulnerable people in the community. The day centres may not be lifeline services in the same sense as a hospital emergency department, for example, but they can still have a dramatic impact on the quality of life of their users and their families.

That is not lost on the councillors who agreed the move in the face of considerable pressure on local authority budgets. Their rationale is clear, charging for some care services is critical in order to protect other essential frontline services.

Looking at the situation in Edinburgh, where thousands are waiting for care packages because social care teams cannot cope with the demands on them, it is hard not to at least understand that position.

We need a bigger debate about how to properly fund social care.