New social care bill for Kirklees residents

SOCIAL care users in Kirklees are set to be hit with increases to the bills they pay.

From tomorrow (April 1) a number of users and their families will be hit with the rises as the council looks to save more money.

In a letter sent out to Kirklees social care users, officials explained the changes are set to be introduced “because the previous system was too expensive for the council to continue”.

Families who have savings over £23,250 or a second property will now be charged a £250 per year administration fee for arranging care services.

The council say they believe it is “reasonable to charge those that can most afford it to set up and manage any changes to their care services”.

Currently there is also an automatic discount rate for respite stays in a residential setting, which previously stood at £20 a night for the first seven nights.

However, this is set to be scrapped.

Instead a financial assessment will be carried out to determine what each family should pay.

Users of social care services in Kirklees have reacted with anger to the news, with many believing the new charges are unfair.

Louise Thomas’s husband Fred suffers with dementia, and the couple currently use services provided by Kirklees to help them.

A carer visits their Mirfield home twice a week to care for the 80-year-old to allow Louise to get out of the house.

However she said that they were being “punished” with the increase in fees.

“I don’t know why they are charging an admin fee,” she said.

“It is already set up so I don’t see why they are charging me.

“A £250 charge is unfair as it is like they are punishing people for having money.”

A Kirklees Council spokesman said: “Kirklees Council’s charging policy is delivered in line with the Care Act 2014 and the overarching principle that people should only be required to pay what they can afford.

“Under the act people are entitled to financial support based on a means-test and some will be entitled to free care.

“Following a period of consultation with the public, a number of changes in the way we charge for Social Care support were agreed as part of the budget setting process in January.

“The changes have been made to ensure our approach is fair, transparent and protects services that support vulnerable people at a time when there are significant reductions in budget.

“Letters have been sent to all people who will be affected by these changes, offering them a review of their assessed financial contributions and opportunity to call us discuss any concerns they have about the impact on their personal circumstances.”

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