Care home fees 'to almost double'

PENSIONERS last night pledged to fight Suffolk County Council plans to almost double care home charges for elderly people.

Jonathan Barnes

PENSIONERS last night pledged to fight Suffolk County Council plans to almost double care home charges for elderly people.

They described rises of up to 89% in weekly charges for new residents moving in to council-run homes as “scandalous”.

The council is proposing the changes in a bid to save about £470,000 next year - part of a wider plan to cut more than £7million from the adult and community services budget.

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Currently, new council home residents with savings of more than £22,250 pay a maximum of £368 a week for their place in the home.

Under the new plans, they will be asked to pay up to £694 a week, which the authority said was more in line with the costs in private homes. The new charges will be made to new “self-funders” - those considered to have enough savings - and not to existing residents.

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It added the money saved would help the council support people with little or no financial resources.

But last night Cliff Horne, chairman of the Suffolk Pensioners' Association, said he would be protesting against the move.

“It's scandalous - I don't know how they can justify it,” he said. “The council clearly considers the elderly a soft touch.

“They say it's to bring the charges in line with the private sector but the private sector is money and profit-orientated. The public sector should not be.”

He added: “I'm against means-testing in principle. It's demeaning - it boils down to someone being penalised for being prudent throughout their working lives and accumulating savings.”

The council runs 16 care homes, which have more than 500 beds between them, and it buys a further 2,085 beds for older people in independent residential and nursing homes.

Graham Newman, portfolio holder for adult and community services at the council, said: “This change corrects a long standing anomaly in which 'self-funders' (those whose financial circumstances are above the £22,250 cash threshold for eligibility for support from the council) had their charges for staying in a county council residential home 'capped'.

“This now brings their costs up to broadly what they would pay in an equivalent independently-run home. The new arrangement applies only to new customers, not existing residents.

“Removal of this subsidy means we will be able to buy more care for vulnerable elderly people who have little or no financial resources.”

But Kevan Lim, deputy leader of the opposition Labour group, said: “It's a massive increase and will put a lot of people under severe financial pressure.

“It could have been done in steps each year, not just all at once like this. It may force people out of care homes and they will have to stay with relatives.”

Earlier this month, the Ageing Well in Suffolk conference heard the number of people aged over 65 is expected to rise from about 133,500 last year to 241,800 by 2031, making up 26% of the population.

The council said demand for residential care for older people in Suffolk was expected to rise by 28% in 10 years.


Number of beds in brackets

The Dell, Beccles (38)

Davers Court, Bury St Edmunds (34)

Glastonbury Court, Bury St Edmunds (48)

Paddock House, Eye (30)

Mills Meadow, Framlingham (32)

Angel Court, Hadleigh (28)

Place Court, Haverhill (31)

214 Sidegate Lane, Ipswich (30)

57 Crabbe Street, Ipswich (31)

218 Hawthorn Drive, Ipswich (29)

Ixworth Court, Ixworth (22)

Blyford, Lowestoft (36)

Stradbroke Court, Lowestoft (35)

Wamil Court, Mildenhall (33)

Wade House, Stowmarket (30)

Lehman House, Wickham Market (38)

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