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Phase in price hikes, demands Citizen

The Gloucester Citizen is calling for controversial price rises in social services home care to be phased in over several years.

Gloucestershire social services has dramatically increased the cost of home care for pensioners and disabled people as one of several measures to claw back the department’s £3.7m overspend.

The new charges, which were introduced at short notice, mean some people are being charged £17 a week instead of £2 a week – and many can’t afford to pay.

The paper is calling on the council to re-think its decision and consult all who use its services before new charges are introduced.

It also wants any increases in charges to be phased in.

Citizen editor Spencer Feeney, said: “The council insists it was caught between a rock and a hard place when it put up the charges, in some cases by around 1,000 per cent.

“It had been left with a huge overspend on its budget because of management control. And it discovered it had been undercharging for those services based on Government guidelines.

“But it must not be allowed to get away with the idea that it had no option but to hike up the charges as a result. Those guidelines are precisely that; they are not fixed tariffs.”

The Citizen’s campaign is being backed by five Gloucestershire MPs, who have condemned the increases.

Forest of Dean MP Diana Organ slammed “poor management” in the department and said: “My constituents are being forced to pay for other people’s bad management and I feel very annoyed that they have gone from a low level of charges to very high without looking at the implications.

“They haven’t given people any advance warning and it seems it will lead to people cutting back on much-needed services.”

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