Saturday, 30 July 2011

Day centre price hike agreed

PENSIONERS will have to pay as much as £63.90 a day to attend day centres, councillors have agreed – as plans to close two homes for the disabled are confirmed.

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Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council has approved scrapping a £4.40 flat rate for transport, entry and a meal at centres for OAPs and the disabled from October 1.

Instead, pensioners will be charged up to £58.90 a day with £114.50 for people with a physical disability and £54 for people with a learning disability.

They will be charged a further £5 for food and drink. A further charge for transport has yet to be decided. Day centre charges will be means tested.

It said the changes are needed because the council is short of cash and admits the four centres could close as users are now given funds to decide how to spend on their care.

If they choose to spend the cash elsewhere, then centres would be hit by a fall in demand and close.

The council day centres for OAPs are Brookvale Day Centre, Olton; Greenhill Way Day Centre, Shirley; Oak Trees Day Centre, Balsall Common and Roundmead Day Centre, Chelmsley Wood.

Some who responded to a consultation warned the plans would increase “social isolation”.

Councillor Bob Sleigh, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “These changes are about introducing a fairer system which follows government guidance to give more people choice in deciding on their own care.”

The Conservative added: “The system takes into account people’s ability to pay and ensures that no-one will pay more than they can afford.

“We will still be subsidising some services, but clearly, we have to use our limited finances in the best way possible in order to continue providing care to the greatest number of people we can and to those in greatest need.”

The council has also proposed closing Sunhaven at Solihull Lodge, which cares for OAPs and people with learning disabilities and Coombes House in Yardley Wood Road, which cares for those with learning disabilities.

It says while care is “high quality” the buildings are poor with no separate sleeping and living areas and a lack of en suite bathrooms.

Improvements would cost £500,000, a council press release said, and other homes and shared housing schemes provide a better service. The council would still pay these bills.

A consultation on the plans launched on Friday and will run to October 21. Click here to give your view.

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