Son hits out at care home charge hike

A DEVOTED son has criticised a “wicked and callous” decision to raise nursing home charges - that will see the cost of his mother's care almost double.

Will Clarke

A DEVOTED son has criticised a “wicked and callous” decision to raise nursing home charges - that will see the cost of his mother's care almost double.

Shocked Richard Livall expected his 91-year-old mother to have to pay £368 a week for a place in a Suffolk County Council care home and was dumbfounded when he was told it would cost £694 a week.

The increased cost comes in the wake of a decision to change the rules which means people with savings above £22,250 are asked to pay up to £694 a week rather than the previous £400 maximum.

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Mr Livall, of Lawshall, near Sudbury, was hoping his mother could move to a Bury St Edmunds care home when she leaves the town's West Suffolk Hospital, where she currently resides.

He said: “The increase introduced by the council represents a wicked and callous act… against the county's weakest and most vulnerable residents.

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“The £698 fee is higher than currently charged by many of the private care homes. Indeed this cruel decision is likely to further inflate rest home fees in the private sector as they keep parity with their public sector counterparts. I just fear the small person in a similar position doesn't stand a chance.”

The changes have angered Cliff Horne, chairman of the Suffolk Pensioners' Association, who is protesting against the new charging scheme.

“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.”

David Ruffley, MP for Bury St Edmunds, has called the changes “completely unfair and unacceptable.”

“The policy that people who save for their old age should be penalised has gone on for far too long,” he said.

About 50 people in the county are now paying the full £694 a week cost.

The council claims its move, which will save it about £470,000 next year, brings the cost of its care in line with the private sector.

A spokeswoman said: “There are already around fifty people who are full cost payers in our residential homes. The new charges apply only to people who choose to live in council-run homes and have enough money to be assessed as having to pay the full price.

“So the only people who will pay the new full charge will be those who can afford it - that is people who have more than the Government's set level of £22,250 in savings.

“We had previously capped the amount that people had to pay at a maximum of less than £400 per week. The cost to the council of providing that care is much more and this cap was a subsidy to people who could afford to pay but happened to be in a council home as opposed to a private one.

“The new charging system means that people who can afford to pay have a choice of either a council home or a private one and they pay the full costs whichever they choose.

“Any extra income we get will be used to help those who can't afford to pay.”

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