Portsmouth pensioners angry over price hike of home help service

ANGRY Muriel Deacon

ANGRY Muriel Deacon

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PENSIONERS’ groups have hit out at the government after a charity increased charges for home services by almost 60 per cent.

Age UK, formerly Age Concern, has hiked the cost of its Help Around The Home service from £7 to £11 per hour – a rise of 57 per cent.

And the move has been blamed on government cuts, which critics say are forcing the most vulnerable people in the city to pay for the actions of bankers.

The service, run entirely by the charity, sends workers into elderly people’s homes to help with domestic chores, shopping and prescription collection, gardening and support for people returning from hospital.

Muriel Deacon, president of Portsmouth Pensioners Association, said: ‘People rely on these services to stay independent. But most pensioners in Portsmouth with their own homes are asset rich, but cash poor. They have a house, but next to nothing else. They won’t be able to afford an increase.’

Age UK failed to comment on the matter to The News.

But sources close to the charity say they had no choice but to increase the charges, because it lost £40,000 in funding this year from Portsmouth City Council and had to find funds to continue to help the elderly.

The council gave a grant payment of £290,000 to Age UK in 2010-11, but cut that to £250,000 this year.

Cllr Leo Madden, the council’s leader for social care, said: ‘We have to find savings of £22m in the next three years because of the effects of cuts from the government. We try to prioritise care for the city’s vulnerable adults and youngsters, and we unfortunately have to charge some people if they are able to pay.’

The price increase took effect this week. Mrs Deacon said: ‘Age UK wouldn’t do this if they didn’t have to, but it will reduce people’s ability to live in their own homes. Old people in this city are suffering for the actions of those who caused the recession.’

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