Tayside and Central Scotland

Falkirk Council to introduce care charges

Falkirk Council has said it will begin charging for some social care services later this year.

The new charging policy will apply to a number of non-residential services such as day care, meals on wheels and home shopping delivery.

Council leader Craig Martin said although the charges were not "desirable", the authority was facing rising costs and demand.

The new charges, which will be capped, are to be introduced in November.

The cost for wheels on meals is rising from £1.70 to £2. The cost of day care, which is currently free, will become £23.90.

Shopping delivery, also free at the moment, will be charged at £5.

A spokesman for Falkirk Council said the charges would protect "more vulnerable service users" from the impact of growing costs.

'Lives at risk'

Mr Martin said: "We are facing a big increase in demand for some of these services and this, coupled with the rise in the cost of these services has made it impossible to continue to provide a quality social work service or to reduce other core services to more vulnerable groups of users.

'While we have maintained a high priority with our social work budgets in the past few years by allocating an additional £6m, it is clear we simply can't compete against the difficult economic choices to be made in today's harsh financial climate."

But SNP councillors said the charges amounted to "an attack on the most vulnerable within our society".

David Alexander, SNP group leader at Falkirk Council, said: "These are essential services that save lives and yet Labour and Conservative councillors are putting obstacles in the way of people who are already living off benefits from receiving them, thus putting lives at risk."

Payments capped

The council leader said service users had accepted that the introduction of some charges were "inevitable" and was in line with many other local authorities in Scotland.

He added that the scheme would be monitored closely to ensure that only those who could afford the charges were paying.

Payments will be capped and those on low incomes will be protected, the council said.

Couples over 65 will pay nothing unless their income is over £236 per week and older people will pay a maximum of £13 a week for all charges.

The maximum charge for adults under 65 is £23.90.

The council expects that about £690,000 will be accrued as a result of the scheme.

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