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05 May 2008

Council administration ignores concerns over care charges

The Cabinet member for Adult Social Services and Housing for on the Council has announced that he will not alter his original decision to implement new charges for home care services despite the call-in of the decision having been upheld.

It is extremely disappointing that the Cabinet member has decided to ignore the recommendations of the call-in panel to phase in care cost increases and allow people who use this service the time to adapt. The Lib Dems have expressed our opposition to these steep increases time and time again at O&S, Cabinet and Council and the Cabinet member has taken no notice.

The Cabinet member will no doubt face criticism for his unwillingness to listen to the call-in panel and indeed for his announcement to the press before the call-in even took place that he did not plan to change his decision no matter what might be said. We are disgusted by his dismissive attitude to the democratically-expressed concerns raised by not only the Liberal Democrat and Labour Groups but also service users and Action for Pensioners. These charges are fundamentally unfair and will hit vulnerable people hard.

Will Sandry said “I have grave concerns about the consultation process that took place before the original decision was made. At the call-in I was unable to find any evidence that the consultation had influenced the proposals on which the decision was made. I am angry that Cllr Pritchard has implemented these huge increases in home care charges, which I think are cruel.”

It concerns us that the Cabinet member has not taken into account the volume of opposition from residents who use these services in this decision, nor the plea from groups such as Action for Pensioners, who asked that a phased introduction of the proposed increases be considered.

Those whom the Cabinet member has deemed able to pay the biggest increases, are likely to be people who have carefully saved for this stage of their lives, and now they will not have any time to prepare for such a steep increase, and may well decide to cut back on services, in order to make ends meet.

We have not been given the detailed facts to support his argument that the proposal of the panel would be more detrimental than the original decision. Local Lib Dems have asked the Cabinet Member last week to furnish us with the actual situation with vacancies at present, but have not received a reply to date.

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