Why new Hartlepool Borough Council bosses say it will be 'very difficult' to reverse £520 home care service charge

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Incoming Labour council chiefs said they fear it will be "very difficult" to reverse a previously approved decision to introduce charges for an assistive care service.

The Hartlepool Technology for Care Service, informally known as telecare, is used by almost 3,000 people to access support at home when needed 24/7 and was previously provided free of charge.

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This included basic and enhanced services, costing £6 and £10 per week respectively, with a one-off £46 installation fee.

Hartlepool Civic Centre.Hartlepool Civic Centre.
Hartlepool Civic Centre.

Conservative council chiefs at the time noted similar services elsewhere in the region have been subject to charges for many years and that the fees in Hartlepool are “significantly less” than many areas.

Labour councillors on the panel voted against the move at that meeting and, following the group’s success at May’s local elections, residents have contacted them over the issue.

Councillor Gary Allen, chair-elect of the adult and community based services committee, said it is “undoubtedly one of a number of challenges” the new Labour administration faces.

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In a statement posted on Facebook, he said: “This decision to dramatically increase charges to up to £520/year was taken by the last Conservative administration back in November.

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“As the incoming chair of adult services, I will ask officers to look into this matter to see if there is anything that can be done.

“However, I fear that as a tendered service with a contract in place it will be very difficult from both a legal and financial perspective to reverse this decision.”

Cllr Allen was one of three Labour councillors who voted against the charges at November’s meeting, where the proposals were supported by four members of the Conservative and independent coalition.

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Speaking after the meeting, Conservative chair councillor Bob Buchan stressed services would “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”.

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