Shropshire

Telford and Wrekin Council plans rise in home help charges

Costs of home care in part of Shropshire could increase from £8 to £12 an hour as part of council cuts.

Labour-controlled Telford and Wrekin Council said it needed to cut a total of £8.6m from its services next year due to government cuts.

It said raising the charges of home-help services would help it to do that.

Union Unison said the price rise for vulnerable people was "regrettable" but it had to protect members' interests and increasing charges would do that.

A total of 283 people in the council's area get home help.

A spokeswoman for the Telford and Wrekin Senior Citizens Forum said said they were "obviously disappointed" with the move.

She said: "They can't keep on losing money, but it means a lot of people are going to find it very difficult to cope.

"I don't suppose we can do an awful lot to change the council's mind at this stage. We will just have to keep our eyes and ears open to ensure vulnerable people do not slip through the net as a result of this."

Level 'unsustainable'

The plans will be considered by the council's cabinet on 22 December and if approved a public consultation will be held until 31 January.

Jonathan Sedgebeer, Unison branch secretary, said the current charging level was unsustainable and the only option was to either increase charging or reduce services.

He said 250 workers had already been made redundant from the council in the past 12 months and he believed the level of home care provided by council workers represented good value for money.

He added: "We asked the council to look at increasing charging for services that the public gets as that protects the interests of our members."

Bill McClements, cabinet minister for finance, said the authority had "no choice" than to reduce spending on council services for elderly care, young people and the environment.

Mr McClements said: "Just over 80% of the total cost to the council are in three areas, the elderly, the young and the environment and you can not get the budget cuts without touching all of them, unfortunately.

"It's a big worry for me as a Labour councillor."

The council announced last week that it planned to save £406,000 by reducing wages and scrapping four senior management posts.

Proposals have also been made to reduce library and recycling centre opening hours, reduce litter picking and to increase charges for council-owned car parks in Telford town centre.

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