PENSIONERS and disabled people could be due a refund after Solihull Council’s assessments for the controversial day care centre charges were ruled unfair.
A council report revealed this week that some of Solihull’s most vulnerable residents were overcharged after their earnings, benefits and partner’s earnings were wrongly taken into account for use of day care centres.
The council had failed to fully follow Department of Health guidelines.
Pensioners previously paid £4.40 a day for transport, entry and meals at day centres while the disabled paid nothing but this rocketed to up to £119 a day last October, leading to a 14 per cent drop in attendance in five months.
Now, as a result of the findings, Solihull Council must refund those affected and anyone who stopped using the centres can have their care needs re-assessed.
Cabinet member for health and wellbeing, Councillor Bob Sleigh, said: “We introduced a Fairer Contributions Policy to ensure there was an equitable system in light of the fact that national policy changed to give people individual budgets.
“However, a few cases came to light so I took the decision as cabinet member to instigate a review of the policy to ensure it was fair.
“Subsequently, and in light of a judgment that came through the system, it came to me that the policy needs to be amended. There will be a very small number of people affected.
“We don’t want to see anyone unfairly treated.”
Solihull MP Lorely Burt said she was ‘delighted’ the assessment had been reviewed after she had raised it with council bosses following concerns from residents.
“Actions are now underway to inject a much fairer solution for residents who want and need the support but who have been hit by the large hike in charges,” she added.
Meanwhile the council is planning to charge £6.50 for transport to centres, previously free of charge for disabled people, netting it £252,000 a year.
Bus passes and taxi journeys to the centres will no longer be paid for.
Coun Sleigh said anyone not in receipt of disability mobility allowance would be assessed on a ‘case by case’ basis.
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