CAMPAIGNERS and families are calling on council chiefs to impose an 'immediate pause' to increased charges for lifeline social care services. 

It comes as we reveal that many vulnerable adults in Glasgow faced with added costs for the provision of care have not been put through additional financial reviews prior to the hike.

Only 1591 individual cases were reassessed across the whole of the city last year, despite a Freedom of Information request revealing that 8652 adults are subject to non-residential care charges.

Most of those who rely on social care are disabled with complex medical needs and say the increases imposed by Glasgow’s Health and Social Care Partnership are eating up around three quarters of their social security benefits during a cost-of-living crisis. Some have seen their bills rise by as much as 75 per cent.

There are now calls for an immediate halt to the charges amid claims they have been rolled out despite a COSLA guideline which says 'regardless of the mechanism to calculate the charge, the amount that a person pays towards their social care support should be determined by completing a financial assessment to determine available income'. They also ask councils to make sure that "personal, social and economic circumstances of individuals are given due regard in determining whether charges should apply, and the level of charges to prevent financial hardship".

Campaigners and relatives of those impacted are calling for a new strategy around social care provision, along with assurances that there won’t be further increases at the start of the new financial year in April, after a hike was imposed then in 2023.

READ MORE: NHS whistleblower says 'burnt out' staff have had enough

A source, who works alongside people using the services, says the move is having a detrimental impact on the mental and physical health of those who attend day centres.

He said: “It is appalling that this increase came without proper consultation with providers, or families it affects.

“This is hitting people who for a variety of reasons find it difficult to work or protect their rights. It appears the local authority took a decision and thought there would be little or no fuss, but people are angry and scared, scared that they might lose these vital services they rely heavily on if they can’t find more money to pay for them.”

The source told the Glasgow Times they believe the local authority should have taken a different approach and consulted third sector parties before rolling them out.

He added: “Despite guidance from COSLA, I believe Glasgow City Council carried out or offered an inadequate number of financial reviews before applying these increases. This is a decision which has left many people unable to support themselves and is taking a toll on their mental and physical health. They might be just recommendations from COSLA, but they are there for a reason, they exist so that council’s think long and hard when making these types of decisions.

“Glasgow’s own Social Care Charging Policy states that people should face no more than a 50 per cent charge if a Financial Assessment Form has not been submitted."

Council bosses say however that COSLA guidance doesn’t state they need to carry out financial assessment every time there is a change to charges. 

They also claim that despite offering an annual financial review to those impacted by social care charges, many are unwilling to take part, despite the reviews being able to help maximise income by making sure everyone is receiving the full range of benefits they are entitled to. It’s understood that around 6000 people across the city benefit from the council run Telecare service, which has a weekly charge of £1.68.

Those who use this service are unlikely to have their charges changed by a financial assessment because they are so low, however, the council says that they are welcome to come forward for a review at any point if they feel it is beneficial.  

Carer Denise Gilmour is calling for an immediate stop to the increases and says she’s yet to receive any reasonable justification for the rise in social care costs.

Glasgow Times: Denise and Billy GilmourDenise and Billy Gilmour (Image: Gordon Terris, Newsquest)

Denise’s son Billy, 21, was starved of oxygen at birth, leaving him deaf and suffering from severe epilepsy. He goes to Fortune Works’ service in Drumchapel five days a week and has gone from paying £121 to £207 each month to attend.

The 44-year-old, from Drumchapel, said: “I’d like to know why this was all rolled out without proper affordability checks. There should have been an invitation for a review instead of a letter stating the charges were being implemented. The onus shouldn’t be on the families, but the council to make sure this wouldn’t leave people on the breadline.

“To increase what you are asking someone to pay without proper checks to see if they can afford it just seems wrong.

“The reality is that the cost to attend a day centre for five days each week has gone through the roof. The expense is met by Billy’s Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment, so when you take into consideration bills, clothing and food, there’s really not much left to live on.”

Peter McMahon says he’s also struggling after being asked to pay £74 weekly for his social care package.

Glasgow Times: Peter McMahonPeter McMahon (Image: Colin Mearns)

The 59-year-old, from the East End of Glasgow, is visually impaired with learning difficulties and believes the charges are pushing the most vulnerable into poverty.

He added: “By the time I pay for my electricity, food and other essentials, my money is almost all gone. There needs to be an urgent review of non-residential social care charges. People just can’t be expected to go on like this.”

Glasgow Times: Peter McMahonPeter McMahon (Image: Colin Mearns, Newsquest)

Richard Baker, head of external affairs and campaigns at charity Enable, previously told the Glasgow Times that the sector has reached crisis point.

He said: “We are seeing more and more people asking us for advice and support. These are society’s most vulnerable and the stress they are under because of the increases in charges, and the threat of more, is quite frankly unacceptable.

“We need assurances that what people are paying won’t continue to rise.”

Labour councillor Robert Mooney, who himself is registered blind, says he is also regularly being contacted by worried constituents seeking guidance.

He added: “It is time their needs were put at the top of the Health and Social Care Partnership’s agenda.”

A spokeswoman for Glasgow’s Health and Social Care Partnership said: “All service users are financially assessed before any charge is made. If it’s a chargeable service they receive, a charge will be made. People are offered the opportunity to have a reassessment at any time and service users are reminded of this on an annual basis.”