Hartlepool Borough Council slammed as 'out of touch' for introducing £520 charge for free home care service
The Hartlepool Technology for Care Service, informally known as telecare, is currently used by almost 3,000 people to access support at home when needed 24/7 and is provided free of charge.
Yet at the latest meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council’s adult and community based services committee it was agreed charges would be brought in from April 2024.
Basic and enhanced services will be available, costing £6 and £10 per week respectively, while there will be a one-off £46 installation charge.
Labour councillors, who voted against the move, said they are “outraged” by the decision.
Conservative councillor Bob Buchan, chair of the committee, said services will “continue to be provided free of charge for up to six weeks for people who require support after a hospital admission”.
He added the 750 people who receive it as part of an existing package of support will “only be required to pay an additional charge if their financial assessment indicates they can afford to”.
He continued: “Support to access all appropriate benefits will also be provided to anyone concerned about paying for the service.
“Similar services elsewhere in the region and across the country have been subject to charges for many years and the charges that will be introduced in Hartlepool are significantly less than in many other areas.
“When charges have been introduced elsewhere the majority of people using services have opted to continue to do so as they recognise there is a cost for such services being delivered and they value the support they receive.”
Cllr Buchan added they remain committed to developing services supporting people to live independently in the community.
He concluded: “We will monitor the impact of the charges being introduced, which will not affect all current users of the service, and we’re confident that the service will continue to be very successful.”
Labour’s councillor Tom Feeney accused leading councillors of being “completely out of touch”.
His party colleague, Councillor Gary Allen, added the decision “hammers the least well off and most vulnerable”.