Sheltered residents may have to pay more

By Ian Dipple Friday 18 July 2014 Updated: 18/07 10:03

ELDERLY residents living in a council run sheltered housing scheme could face finding over £1,000 a year for vital support services because of funding cuts.

Redditch Borough Council is proposing to introduce charges for residents living in extra care housing at St David's House and Queen's Cottages on Willow Way in Batchley to cover the cost of having a staff member on site 24/7, monitoring of the lifeline system, activities and daily wellbeing visits.

Under the plan residents will be charged £33 a week - or £1,716 a year - on top of rent, heating and water costs, service charge and any additional care they may need.

The move is a result of Worcestershire County Council's decision to axe Supporting People funding worth about £87,000 for the scheme in 2013/14. The county council is also cutting the hourly rate it pays staff to care for residents from £13.70 to £13.20 an hour.

It means the borough council will be more than £64,000 worse off by 2015/16.

The plan still needs approval from councillors but if officers are given the green light the charges will be introduced from Monday, October 6.

Laney Walsh, from UNISON in Redditch, said: "UNISON Redditch is saddened to hear once again cuts in the name of 'austerity' will be hitting the most vulnerable in the Redditch community. These residents, already in need of services they probably would never have thought they would need, may be facing a dilemma no person that has lived and served its society should ever face, what can they afford? To pay for a service that allows them to live with a basic level of dignity and as much independence as they possibly can or do they buy food, pay for heat, not be able to socialise?"

A spokeswoman for Redditch Borough Council said some residents already paid for support provided at a rate of £62.50 a week which would actually reduce under the proposals, however it would be a new charge for those on Housing Benefit which was previously paid by the Supporting People fund.

"Officers and Members have met with all the residents and their families to explain the changes in detail and are confident that the current service can continue. We will also be reviewing residents’ income to ensure they are in receipt of all the benefits they are entitled to, to be able to meet any extra costs."

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