Final chance on care charges

by Lorraine King Controversial plans to hike care charge fees could be scrapped if enough residents give it the thumbs down in the new few days. Council chiefs are proposing to increase the fees by up to almost 300 per cent, which would a

by Lorraine King

Controversial plans to hike care charge fees could be scrapped if enough residents give it the thumbs down in the new few days.

Council chiefs are proposing to increase the fees by up to almost 300 per cent, which would affect the borough's oldest and most vulnerable residents.

Last December the Times exclusively revealed the plans, which caused outrage with residents accusing town hall bosses of sneaking in the charges by


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choosing to launch the month-long consultation just days before most day centres, organisations, voluntary and statutory groups closed for the Christmas break.

Despite claiming they had written to affected residents on December 19, the Times attended a meeting of around 60 service users where only ONE person received a letter and it popped through her letter box on January 15 - four days before the consultation was due to end.

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Following a string of complaints to council chiefs in reaction to the Times' expose, council chiefs were forced to extend the consultation until March 15.

In a further twist, the current admininistration were sporting red faces after pre-election campaign leaflets by the Lib Dems resurfaced in which they had pledged free care for elderly residents.

With the deadline looming, Ron Collman from Brent's Pensioners' Forum is urging anyone who hasn't filled in a consultation form to do so or contact his group if they need help.

He said: "The council did their upmost to try and hide this but now we all know I will try my best to make sure anyone who will be affected by this fills out a form."

In an effort to boost the council's coffers, the proposals will see the introduction of a �3.75 daily fee for day care centre attendees, and the cost of having a care worker on call for sheltered accommodation residents surge from �39.90 a week to �116.55 - a hike of 292 per cent.

In addition, the council want to bill hospital patients �16.65 an hour for help which allows them to live independently after they are discharged.

Mr Collman said: "These charges are incredible especially when you take into account that elders have paid into the pot for years and now are being punished for perhaps needing a little help now.

"With rising energy bills, Council Tax and food costs, how can the council expect people to pay?"

Despite the furore over the proposals council chiefs have pledged that the charges will only be applicable to residents 'able to pay.'

Anyone wanting to give their views to the proposals can obtain a consultation form by calling 020 8937 4189.

Alternatively residents who need help in filling out a form can call Mr Collman on 020 8998 0564.

lorraine.king@archant.co.uk

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