HUNDREDS more sick or vulnerable people in Hartlepool will have to pay more towards care costs to support independent living after the council agreed a new policy.
From April, Hartlepool Borough Council will be able to ask that people pay up to 100 per cent of their social care packages.
The council’s adult services committee agreed the change to its Contribution Policy when it met yesterday.
The local authority has subsidised all social care packages by 25 per cent since 2008, irrespective of income.
But it says the current funding arrangements were not sustainable as the adult services department needs to find £1.325m in savings for 2014/15.
Councillor Carl Richardson, chairman of the committee, said: “We think this will be the fairest way to maintain our services. The reason we want to do this is because of Government cuts.
“What we are trying to do is protect our front line services as much as possible.
“I think we have done very well in the last couple of years, but next year is going to be even worse and is going to be a very difficult year.”
The change in policy is expected to generate an additional £196,000 to £218,000 a year.
Jill Harrison, the council’s assistant director of adult services, said in a report: “The current economic climate has impacted significantly on the council’s budget.
“It is essential that the council now reviews the level at which people contribute towards the cost of the services they receive.
Generating additional income will support the continued delivery of front line social care services at a time of increased financial austerity and will only affect people who can afford to pay more.”
Any change to people’s costs will follow a financial assessment. It is estimated that the proposed change will affect between 380-430 of the 4,600 people in the town who currently receive social care support in the community.
Most people who responded to a questionnaire on the changes, 59 per cent, did not the principle of the new policy compared to 41 per cent in favour.
The Contribution Policy does not affect people in residential care such as an older people’s care home, where there is a different system in place for contributions.