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Urgent action demanded on cost of care for the elderly

OLDER people are suffering a postcode lottery for the cost of care and support services, leading to fresh calls for the Scottish Government to act immediately.

New figures show charges imposed by councils vary across the country, with day care for the elderly remaining free in some areas but costing £34.60 per day in others.

Community alarms for vulnerable residents can be free but some authorities charge £5.50 per week, while staff will pick up groceries for free in some areas but in others they will charge nearly £8 on top of the price of shopping.

Scottish Labour, which obtained the data from all but four of Scotland's 32 local authorities, said the findings were evidence of a postcode lottery of care. It said the Scottish Government should do more to alleviate the financial plight of councils.

The responses from councils, comparing charges in 2008 and 2012, show that more than half have increased charges for day care services in recent years. The biggest increase was in Perth and Kinross, where services that used to be free are now charged at up to £89.25 per week. Stirling and Highland both used to provide day care for free in 2008 but now charge £9.60 and £5.00 respectively for an hour's care.

When Glasgow City Council introduced a charge for its community alarm service last November, provoking protests, it argued that most councils had already introduced fees for the service.

The new figures bear that out, with 18 councils having introduced or increased charges since 2008. However, fees vary from Midlothian, where there is still no charge, to the Highlands, where the cost is £5.50 per week – an annual difference of more than £280 to users, the majority of whom are frail elderly people.

Increases have also been steep – West Dunbartonshire, which charged £1.50 a week in 2008, was charging £2.13 last year, a 42% rise.

Charges for adults who need day care have also risen over the four years surveyed, most significantly in Falkirk, where care was free in 2008 and now comes in at £23.90 a week, and Stirling, where services were free and are now charged at £9.60 per hour.

Meanwhile, more rises are on the way. Last week cash-strapped councils set budgets that in some cases will see fees increase further. East Dunbartonshire had previously protected free day care for elderly people and adults who needed it, but has now announced charges, capped at £10 per week. West Lothian, which previously did not charge for community alarms, is to introduce a £1 a week fee for new clients.

Jackie Baillie MSP said the blame for the wide variation in charges should be placed at the door of the Scottish Government. "Increasingly, Scots are facing a postcode lottery of care," she said. "It simply is unacceptable that if you live in Falkirk you could be paying substantially more for the same sort of care than if you live in Fife.

"Many of these charges are going up because councils are facing the brunt of the SNP's cuts. The SNP need to stop the spin and live up to the expectations Scots have.

"As our population continues to age, we need a proper solution about how we ensure adequate care for our older community."

She added: "The SNP promised to sort this out four years ago. Their hollow words will be no comfort to Scots who are being squeezed as a result of social care not being funded properly."

A spokesman for Health Secretary Alex Neil said: "This is staggering hypocrisy from Jackie Baillie. It is she and her Labour colleagues who are threatening the free personal care being delivered to thousands of older people across Scotland, through their Cuts Commission.

"Labour have made it clear there is nothing off the table when it comes to what universal benefits they plan to axe via the Cuts Commission."

Care charges for the elderly by council in 2008 and 2012

Council

Elderly Day Care

Adult Day Care

Community Alarm

Shopping Delivery

 

2008

2012

2008

2012

2008

2012

2008

2012

Aberdeen

£0

£4.20

£0

£4.20

£1.30 p/week

£1.35 p/week

N/A

N/A

Aberdeenshire

£3.40 p/week

£6 p/week

£0

£0

£1 p/week

£2 p/week

£8.50 p/week

£12 p/week

Angus

£0*

 

£0*

 

£0*

 

£0*

 

£0

£4

£2.80 p/week

£3.10 p/week

Argyll and Bute

Not given

£7.05 p/hour

£12.15 p/hour

£14.60 p/hour

£4 p/week

£4.55 p/week

N/A

N/A

Dundee

£31 p/day

£34.70 p/day

Up to £49.19 p/half day

Up to £54.80 p/half day

£1 p/week

£2 p/week

£6.20 p/shop

£7.80 p/shop

East Ayrshire

£0

£2

£0

£2

£3.64

£3

N/A

N/A

East Dunbartonshire

£0

£0

£0

£0

£173.68 p/year

£192.21 p/year

£10 p/hour

£14 p/hour

East Lothian

Not given

£0

Not given

£0

Not given

£1.57 p/week

N/A

N/A

East Renfrewshire

£0

£0

£0

£0

£1.19

£2.10

N/A

N/A

Edinburgh

£3 p/day

£5.50 p/day

£0 *

 

£0*

 

Up to £6.31

Up to £7.11

N/A

N/A

Falkirk

£0

£0

£0

£23.90 p/week

£0

£3 p/week

£0

£5 p/delivery

Fife

£0*

 

£0*

 

£0*

 

£0*

 

£1 p/week

£1.56 p/week

N/A

N/A

Glasgow

£0

£0

£0

£0

£0.00

£3 p/week

N/A

N/A

Highland

£0

£5

£0

£5

£2.22 p/week

Up to £5.50 p/week

£11.62 p/hour

£17.20 p/ hour

Midlothian

Not given

Up to £153 p/year

Not given

Up to £270 p/year

£0

£0

N/A

N/A

Moray

Not given

Not given

Not given

Not given

£0

£50 p/year

£0

£0

North Ayrshire

£8.30 p/day

£11 p/day

£0 p/day*

£8.32 p/day *

£3 p/week (mainland)

£1 p/week (island)

£4 p/week (mainland)

£2 p/week (island)

N/A

N/A

North Lanarkshire

£0*

£0*

£0*

£0*

£0

£0

£11.50 p/hour

£15.50 p/hour

Orkney

£0

£0

£0

£0

£0

£0

N/A

N/A

Perth and Kinross

£0

Up to £89.25 p/week

£0

£0

£3 p/week

£3.64 p/week

N/A

N/A

Renfrewshire

£1.50 p/day*

£1.70 p/day*

 

£0*

 

£0*

 

£3.10 p/week

£3.25 p/week

N/A

N/A

Scottish Borders

Not given

£2 p/day*

Not given

£2 p/day*

Not given

£2.30 p/week

N/A

£3.42 p/shop

Shetland

£0*

£0*

£0*

£0*

£0

£0

£0

£0

South Ayrshire

£0*

 

£0*

 

£0*

 

£0*

 

£2.60 p/week

£3.18 p/week

N/A

N/A

Stirling

£0*

 

£9.60 p/hour

£0*

 

£9.60 p/hour

£1.50 p/week

£1.63 p/week

£9.10 p/hour

£3 p/delivery

West Dunbartonshire

£0

£0

£0

£0

£1.50 p/week

 

£2.13 p/week

N/A

N/A

West Lothian

£3.78 p/hour

£4.35 p/hour

£2.34 p/hour

£2.70 p/hour

£0

£0

£5

£5

Western Isles

£0*

£0*

£0*

£0*

£1.50

£1.50

N/A

N/A

 

*extra charge for meals

Clackmannanshire, Dumfries and Galloway, South Lanarkshire, and Inverclyde didn’t respond.

 

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

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