Lancashire day centre fees to increase for those who pay in full

County Cllr Graham Gooch, cabinet member for adult services, Lancashire County Council
County Cllr Graham Gooch, cabinet member for adult services, Lancashire County Council
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More than 200 elderly people who pay the full cost of attending council-run day centres in Lancashire will see the daily price go up by between £6 and £11 by next spring.

Lancashire County Council’s cabinet voted to approve the increases, which will not affect those whose attendance is part-funded by the authority. The changes will be phased in over two stages in October this year and April 2020.

County Hall operates 13 day centres across Lancashire which provide activities like crafts, exercise and discussion groups and are used by around 620 people per week.

Just over a third of those have to pay in full for their visits, but the numbers of fee-paying users varies at each location - ranging from 35 people who pay in full at the Leyland Centre, to 28 at Fosterfield at Chorley and three at Byron View in Colne.

The cost of attending the facilities has not increased for more than five years, but under the measures approved by cabinet members, an annual inflationary uplift in the price will be implemented every April.

The basic rate for attendance will go from £31.30 currently to £37.45 next April, having first increased to £34.40 in October. Anybody provided with council transport will pay £41 per day by next April, compared to £35 at the moment, while those with dementia who receive extra support and transport will pay £69 by next spring, up from £58 today.

A public consultation into the plans found that a quarter of respondents would use the facilities less often if the price hikes went ahead and one in eight said that they would stop going to the centres altogether.

But Graham Gooch, cabinet member for adult services, said the authority had been left with little choice.

"They are fairly substantial increases, but that’s because the previous administration had set it to one side and, although staff and running costs had gone up, what people paid didn’t - and we’re now in a position where it’s not financially sustainable if we don’t increases the prices.

“[Service users] will be able to ask for another financial assessment [of their circumstances] if they really feel that they cannot afford it.

However, deputy Labour opposition leader John Fillis wanted to know whether the increases would be necessary if the government had not "taken £600m out of Lancashire".

"Clearly, even though this is happening [in phases], it's still an increase of 15 percent whichever way you cut it - and people out there will still pay a lot more for less services," he said.

Papers presented to the cabinet said that the phasing in of the new charges will enable users of the services to better assess the affordability of continuing to use them and also take advantage of any increase in their private and state pensions next spring.

The county council acknowledged that it would be “regrettable” if anybody stopped attending the day centres as a result of the changes and acknowledged that such a move could have a “significant impact” on their lives.

However, the authority claimed that the council’s charges would still compare well with independently-run day centres which were found to charge an average of £53 per day and up to £95 in some cases.

WHO WILL PAY WHAT AND WHEN?

From 1st October, 2019, the daily charge for day centre attendance for those who fully fund it themselves will increase:

***from £31.30 to £34.40 per full day for older people to use the council's day services;

from £35 to £38 per full day for older people to use the council's day services with transport to and from the centres (where transport is available);

***from £54.75 to £60.15 for older people who have dementia to use the council's day services, reflecting the additional staff costs to support them to attend and take part;

***from £58 to £63.50 for people who need additional support for dementia to use the council's day services with transport to and from the centres where transport is available).

From April 2020 the daily charge for day centre attendance for those who fully fund it themselves will increase:

***from £34.40 to £37.45 per full day for older people to use the council's day services;

***from £38 to £41 per full day for older people to use the council's day services with transport to and from the centres (where transport is available);

***from £60.15 to £65.50 per full day for older people who have dementia to use the council's day services, reflecting the additional staff costs to support them to attend and take part;

***from £63.50 to £69 per full day for people who need additional support for dementia to use the council's day services with transport to and from the centres (where transport is available).