Page last updated at 16:21 GMT, Monday, 30 March 2009 17:21 UK

Anger at home carers charges rise

Vincent Wells and Lilly Wells
Mrs Wells' bill will go up from 96 to 210 a week

A 50% increase in charges for home carers has angered the families of those who depend on the service in Gwynedd.

Letters notifying hundreds of users were delivered two weeks before the charges rise from £8 to £12 an hour.

Lilly Wells, 92, said the price rise was ridiculous, but she depended on the service as she was registered blind.

Gwynedd Council said it faced "a very considerable financial challenge" but had no alternative to protect services.

Mrs Wells, from Bangor, has a carer for two-and-a-half hours each day, split into four visits.

"I can't switch the oven, I can't switch my washer on, " she said.

I think it is appalling that the council should even consider raising the charges made to the elderly and infirm
Andy Crockett, son

"Do you realise how much it will cost? I still have the same electric, same heating... still have to buy all the things to keep the house clean.

"I don't want to go into a nursing home, not whilst I can manage.

"When I can't manage, that's different isn't it," she added.

Her son Vincent said his mother's homecare bill will go up from £96 to £210 a week because of the price rise.

"She can't shower without care, can't cook without care, she's registered blind," he said.

Andy Crockett from Harlech also contacted BBC news about the changes as they affect his mother Edna Crockett, 88.

We've had to consider every possible means and it's been a very difficult decision
Gwen Carrington, Gwynedd social services

"This care is vital, it provides my mother with the opportunity to remain independent and to live in her own home," he said.

"My mother is obviously extremely upset and concerned about this huge increase in her outgoings."

Mr Crockett said he could not believe it when he saw the letter sent out about the rise in charges.

"I think it is appalling that the council should even consider raising the charges made to the elderly and infirm," he said.

"Once again the council are targeting the people in our community that are the most vulnerable and least able to look after themselves.

"A rise of 10% would be unacceptable; to raise the cost of care for this defenceless group of people by a staggering 50% is an insult.

Age Concern

"There's a danger they will cancel care and that puts them in a vulnerable situation," he added.

John Clifford Jones, from Age Concern Gwynedd and Mon, said he was disappointed in the price increase.

"The cost of living is on the rise and it is a very difficult time," he said.

Mr Jones said Age Concern was able to give advice to anyone who needed it and said people should not refuse help if they needed it.

"They (the service users) have had a bit of a shock that the price had gone up," he added.

'Sustainable service'

Gwynedd council's head of social services, Gwen Carrington, said however that everything had been looked at to try to avoid a price rise.

"It is very unfortunate but the council is facing a very considerable financial challenge and our primary concern and priority is that services are available and sustainable," she said.

"We've had to consider every possible means and it's been a very difficult decision and there's been a lot of debate," she added.

Ms Carrington said that home care fees in the county of Gwynedd had been lower than in other places for a number of years, and that accounted for the current rise.

"The authority has done it's best to maintain those costs but unfortunately this year it had to raise the cost," she added.



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