Dorset

Anger at Poole Day Centre six-fold fee increases

Margaret and Eric Russell
Image caption Mr and Mrs Russell say they are not hard up but still need to stay within a budget

An 80-year-old dementia sufferer has been angered by a six-fold increase in costs to attend a day centre which relatives say is his lifeline.

Eric Russell used to pay £12 a day at Poole Day Centre in Dorset, but the council sent him a letter in December saying fees had risen to £78 a day.

The pensioner said he had been forced reduce his three visits a week to one.

Poole council said the rises were introduced as part of a means-tested policy from the government.

Mr Russell said he loved the care he got at the centre which also gave his wife, Margaret, a well-earned break.

'Not millionaires'

He added: "I was stunned quite honestly. I thought why the hell are they doing that to pensioners."

Mrs Russell said: "I felt absolutely sand bagged when I read the letter.

"It took me a few days to get over what it said, I couldn't believe the prices had gone so high."

Poole council said it had to enforce the policy which charges people the actual cost of a service if they are deemed to be able to afford it.

But Mrs Russell, who lives in Canford Cliffs, said: "A lot of people in the area are asset rich but income poor.

"We are not hard up but we are not millionaires either and we are on a budget and cannot afford to pay the fees."

Councillor Elaine Atkinson, leader of the Conservative-controlled Poole council, said: "If people have significant funds in the bank and are able to afford it then unfortunately they have to do so.

"But it must be remembered that more than 40% of people that use our services are not making any contributions at all."

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