A statement from Marion Fellows MP in addition to the below press release:
“I was astonished when I heard about the new charges for the Community Alarms and the Integrated Day Services. Labour are making the elderly pay for something that is crucial to their welfare.
“For those can’t afford to pay the charge or choose to opt out, this will pose a great risk to their safety. People should not be made to pay for such an important service that is essential for their wellbeing. This will no doubt have an adverse effect on peoples’ confidence to go about their day to day lives.
“I understand NLC’s requirement to make cuts, but they have refused to even tap into the £12million contingency fund – as suggested by the SNP Group in North Lanarkshire Council – to continue to provide the service for free which service users have enjoyed for years.
“I have already received a number of enquiries from constituents regarding the changes. People cannot believe that they are being made to pay for such an important service – even if it is £5 a week. In these hard times, even £5 can mean the difference between whether a pensioner eats or goes hungry.
“It is vital that Labour look at these proposals again.”
PRESS STATEMENT FROM SNP GROUP,NORTH LANARKSHIRE COUNCIL
SNP SLAM “VISCIOUS” ATTACK ON PENSIONERS
Councillor David Stocks,Leader of the SNP Group on North Lanarkshire Council,has slammed the new charges for community alarms and day services now faced by elderly people throughout North Lanarkshire.
Said Councillor Stocks: “This week shocked pensioners will be receiving sudden charges of £5 a week for community alarm systems and a further £10 per session for integrated day services. This is staggering news for some of our most vulnerable people. Both these services were free until now. Those using both services will face finding an extra £15 per week.
“The SNP Group opposed these charges when they were presented as budget options for the Council. The Labour Group backed the proposals,but passed them on to the new Integrated Joint Board for Health and Social Care North Lanarkshire for implementation. They simply cut the Council contribution to the new Board and left it to take the flack for these two new charges. SNP displeasure at these charges was communicated directly to the Board.
“The Labour Council has been completely heartless in this matter. To suddenly jump from free services to £5 a week and £10 a week shows a total lack of understanding
of financial pressures on our elderly residents. Labour has refused to accept the SNP’s budget strategy of using part of the £12 million Contingency Fund which sits permanently in the Council’s financial reserves.
“Many elderly people use the current integrated day services more than once per week. Now they face £10 for one session,plus the current £4.81 meal charge.
A sudden leap from free services to finding £15 per week for alarms and one single day service session is unacceptable. At the very least,the Contingency Fund could have been used to soften the blow,with some modest transitional charges.
“Once again,Labour’s lack of strategic,long-term, budget planning has let down the most vulnerable people of North Lanarkshire. Their back door manoevreings to pass the blame on to the Integrated Board is contemptible.”.
Letters announcing the new charges have been sent out week beginning 18th July,with the new charges starting on 8th August and the first bills coming on 5th September.
END OF STATEMENT