COUNCIL U-TURN ON DAY CARE CHARGES

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PLANS to charge for day care services for older people have been dropped by East Dunbartonshire Council (EDC).

The means tested charges were due to be implemented earlier this month but details emerged last month that a higher than expected number of customers would be adversely affected than originally anticipated.

There was an outcry when the fees - which could have cost some people up to £43.80 per day - were first announced in 2010, and as a result they were put on hold pending a review.

Scrapped

They have now been scrapped following a full council meeting last week.

Explaining the decision, John Simmons, director of community services, said: “Projections had shown that the majority of older people receiving day care would not be charged as they would already be paying for other care services. However, following further detailed analysis of our customers’ needs, this has now been proven not to be the case.

“It also became clear that a higher than expected number of customers would be subject to the full daily charge, which wasn’t anticipated.

“Councillors felt that the implementation of the charges would therefore impact adversely on a large number of our older, most vulnerable customers and so the decision to implement the new charges was dropped.”

As a result of the decision, all day care customers will now be sent a letter detailing the council’s position regarding the charges.

The original decision to extend the non residential charging policy was driven by the results of a council consultation in 2010 which gave residents the opportunity to tell the council what its priorities should be, where they thought savings could be made and the services where additional charges could be introduced.

Council Leader Rhondda Geekie said: “I am glad to see the proposed charging for day care scrapped. The original information was flawed and it is important that councillors are always made aware of all the facts before decisions are made.”

Milngavie councillor Jim Gibbons said: “I have been approached by a number of constituents who were extremely distressed about the implementation of day care charges, so I am pleased that the decision to drop them has been taken.

“The day care services provided by East Dunbartonshire Council are greatly appreciated by the service users. The impact of the charges would have had an adverse impact on some of the most vulnerable people in our community who deserve better.”

Vulnerable

East Dunbartonshire MP Jo Swinson welcomed the council’s u-turn, saying: “This is an essential service for the elderly and vulnerable in our community. I hope lessons have been learnt on the importance of consultation and communication for future changes to vital services.”

Currently, EDC supports over 300 customers in various day care facilities located throughout the authority, including older people, people with dementia, mental illness and learning disabilities, and people from ethnic backgrounds.