Care charge plans shelved

CONTROVERSIAL plans to make hundreds of elderly and disabled people pay the full cost of their care have been dropped by Northumberland County Council.

The council’s Liberal Democrat administration has withdrawn its proposal to remove the cap of £120 a week on how much people pay for care in their own homes — but it will more than double it, to £251.

Removing that cap would have left almost 600 elderly and disabled people facing bills of up to £820 a week.

A Conservative group proposal to increase the cap to £150 a week was also rejected at last week’s meeting to agree the authority’s budget for the coming financial year.

Instead, councillors agreed that the maximum weekly charge for home and day care will be set at 60 per cent of the current cost of £419 for residential short-break care in care homes. That will increase the £120 weekly cap to £251.

Speaking at the meeting at Morpeth’s County Hall, Tory group leader Peter Jackson, of Ponteland South, said: “Imposing unlimited charges for home care for elderly and disabled people would be cruel and unusual.”

“The means-testing threshold of £13,000 a year is not a fortune.”

Speaking afterwards, he added: “We are bitterly disappointed that the council did not support our proposal for a maximum charge of £150 a week, which is still a lot for vulnerable people to pay.

“We think the administration’s latest proposal is still too much of a burden for people to pay.”