The son of a pensioner fears she will be left without day centre care in Solihull following a huge hike in fees.
Michael Lawley said his 88-year-old mother Otillie Foster, who suffers from dementia, had been paying £4.20 per day to attend a day centre in Knowle but will now be charged £58.90 a day for the same service, a 14-fold increase.
Solihull Council has approved a new scale of fees and charges for adult social care services, which comes into force on October 1, taking into account people’s ability to pay based on a financial assessment.
It means some pensioners, who all currently pay the flat rate of £4.20, will have to pay up to £58.90 a day for entry into a day centre, Other people with a physical disability will be charged up to £114.50 a day, and people with learning disabilities up to £54 a day. There will also be a charge of £5 for food and drink. Further charges for transport have yet to be decided.
Mr Lawley, who lives in Acocks Green, said: “She has dementia but she was as surprised as the rest of us when she heard. It means a lot of people, my mother included, just won’t go because they won’t be able to afford it.
“The day centre is very beneficial for her and so important, especially as shopping is beyond her now. It is a day out, it gives her a chance to get out of the house to be with other people and to talk to them.”
The council said the changes have been made in order “to put in place a fairer system which follows national guidance and reflect the resources available”.
It added that it aimed to be realistic about how much the council continues to subsidise services. The maximum charges will only apply to those with income and capital of more than £23,250 a year. Those on less will have a personal budget worked out and will not pay the full amount – and may not have to pay at all.
The local authority has carried out a consultation about the changes. It found that although people felt the system needed to be made fairer and agreed charges should be based on people’s ability to pay, there were concerns about possible loss of services and the affordability of new charges.
Mr Lawley’s partner, Julia Larden, said: “Coincidentally we had a chat with Otillie’s social worker who suggested she goes to the day centre more often as it’s good for her. We don’t yet know what she’s going to have to pay but it seems likely she won’t be able to afford to go at all, never mind more often.
“I think it’s appalling. Her face fell when she heard. Her time at the day centre is very stimulating, especially as she’s suffering from dementia and finds it hard to cope at home. She’s there from 11am to 3pm, they collect her and she gets a meal too.
She added: “If she can’t go, it will have a knock-on effect and put pressure on the family too. One of her sons has a long-term health condition and her other son works. We were asked how much pressure this is putting on us and we said five – the maximum.”