Newham’s sick and disabled to pay more for council services

Elderly, ill and disabled residents will be charged more for social care services such as Meals on Wheels and transport in an effort to cut costs at Newham Council.

The charging policy came into force on August 1 which requires those who receive non-residential services to pay a flat rate contribution which is more than the current rate for Meals on Wheels, laundry, meals in day centres, council transport, telecare monitoring, telephone line rental, TV licences and one-off services such as intensive house cleaning, due to cuts to council subsidies.

These charges will apply to the elderly, disabled people with physical and sensory impairments and learning disabilities, substance abusers and the mentally ill, regardless of their financial situation.

Contributions for all other services will be subject to an individual financial assessment based on the cost of the service and the resident’s savings, benefits and income, meaning that some residents could be charged up to �200 a week.

The decision was agreed by Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales and members of the cabinet at a council meeting on July 21 following meetings with a number of social care organisations in the borough such as Action and Rights of Disabled People in Newham and elderly care home Hamara Ghar in Upton Park.

The majority of the organisations consulted said they thought the charges should be much lower than

A council report suggested a �5 return charge for council transport, �5 a week for the telecare call-out monitoring service and �5.35 for each meal provided by Meals on Wheels.

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The council report states: “With increasing numbers requiring adult social care support, the reduction in Central Government funding and the need for the Council to make significant savings, it is no longer financially viable not to consider the implementation of the Charging Policy.”

They also estimate that the average cost per user will be less than �200 per week with a proposed minimum contribution of �2.50 per week because only those who fail to comply with the assessment, have savings of �23,250 or more, or have a relatively large income will be charged the maximum amount.

Currently, the total number of claimants of Employment Support Allowance and incapacity benefits in Newham, who could be affected by the new charging policy, is 34,770 which is the highest number out of the Olympic Boroughs.