THE Free Church of Scotland has attacked the country's largest local authority over new charges for the elderly using day centres, claiming it is "short-sighted and exploitative".

In a letter to the head of Glasgow City Council, the Moderator of Glasgow and Argyll Presbytery, Rev Dr Colin Dow, attacked the changes, which see some elderly people who use day centres forking out as much as £75 a week.

It comes on top of a near 300 per cent hike in the cost of meals in elderly day centres. The city council has defended the charges, claiming those on low incomes will be able to avoid the charges and not to bring them in would be unfair to other groups.

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But in his letter, co-signed by the leadership of congregations across the city, Rev Dr Dow warned a reduction in numbers attending will trigger a cut in funding to day care centres and could lead to closures across the city. He told council leader Gordon Matheson: "We are already aware of at least one centre on the financial brink as a result of this short-sighted measure. We urge you in the strongest possible terms to abandon this short-sighted and exploitative scheme and think in the best interests of Glasgow's elderly."

SNP group leader Susan Aitken welcomed the Free Church's "timely intervention".