Redbridge charity brands charges to carers ‘a smack in the face’
- Credit: Archant
A full-time carer has branded new charges a “kick in the teeth” after the council budget was agreed last week.
Barry Bates, from Barkingside, has been receiving free respite support since he became his wife’s full-time carer and fears means-tested charges will stop him receiving help.
The 68-year-old cares for Diane Bates, 67, who has multiple sclerosis and relies on a wheelchair.
The plan to charge for services comes following the passing of the Care Act last year, which gives carers the right to receive help from their local authority.
However, under the new plans, about 200 carers could be charged up to £1,000 a year for help – if they can afford it.
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Barry said: “If you’ve never cared for someone week in week out you’re never going to understand the situation we’re in.
“These charges are unacceptable. It’s just not helping the people that are helping people, it’s just a kick in the teeth.
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“I know the council has to make lots of cuts but it’s the principle of charging carers.”
Redbridge Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal said: “The council does not have plans to charge all carers up to £950 per year.
“This budget decision relates to a small group of carers, currently 700, and it’s estimated that more than half of these would continue to pay no charge towards home care packages or direct payments.
“There will be no charge for prevention and early intervention services.
“All we are asking is that those residents who can afford to pay make a contribution towards the service we provide based on their financial situation.”
A council report in January estimated that 117 carers would pay an average of £19.88 a week and 212 people would pay £18 a week. The council is hoping to raise more than £300,000 by making the changes.
Redbridge Carers Support Service’s Glynis Donovan said: “Although this will affect a small number of carers, the principle is wrong.
“We estimate that carers save us £344million a year so it’s a bit of a smack in the face.”
Conservative Cllr Paul Canal said: “We’re very concerned – this is an attack on the elderly.”