OLDER people in Powys who visit a day centre will be hit with an increased bill to use the service from next month.
The current fee of £10 per day is set to rise to £15, while the charge for lunch and refreshments will go up from £5 per day to £7.50.
At Powys County Council’s Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, it was agreed to up the fees from April 1.
From the same date, the cap on the maximum weekly amount a person can be charged for community-based social care, set by the Welsh Government, will raise from £60 to £70.
At this week’s meeting, cabinet members heard from Portfolio Holder for Adult Services, Cllr Stephen Hayes, who recommended this increase be implemented in Powys as well as the increased day charges.
He said raising the maximum weekly cap would generate an estimated £239,000 in additional income, on top of £30,000 from the increased day centre fee, and £50,000 for upping the lunch charge.
Cllr Hayes also stressed that this would not impact those who qualify to use the service for free.
“Around one third of service users do not pay for their services following a financial assessment,” he said.
“One of the clear messages from our consultation was that people valued the services and would be willing to pay more for them.
“Financial assessments will mean that many people potentially will not pay that charge.
“I recommend we increase the charge for the meal that people who attend the day centres receive. It is £5 currently, which includes tea or coffee in the morning, lunch, and tea and cake in the afternoon.
“The average cost of providing that is £11. I am proposing the charge for the meal goes up to £7.50.”
Other cabinet members were concerned about the steep rise, but ultimately voted unanimously to approve the new charges.
Cllr Graham Brown said: “There is a section under the Health and Care Strategy that says ‘Age Well.’ I think that day centres are the provision at the moment that are addressing that.
“£22.50 to attend a day centre per day is quite a considerable amount of money for people to find.
“I am reassured that Cllr Hayes has given that assurance that it is not going to be charged to people who have limited funds, but I am worried that it is going to become unaffordable for those who are just on the borderline.
“If people stop using it, those projected increases are not going to be achieved.”
Cllr Wynne Jones backed raising the meal charge due to the high cost of providing the food, but said work needed to be done to find cheaper ways around it.
“We are still going to be subsidising those meals to a fairly large amount,” he said.
“To say that the cost of the meal is £11 per day, that is quite a staggering amount. We should buy a take away from McDonald’s, it would save us a fortune.
“We need to have a look at that to see whether we can bring those costs down.”
Cllr Hayes explained that the cost of providing the meal “varies considerably” from one day centre to the next, but the council is looking into how it can be brought down.
See full story in the County Times