SOLIHULL Council could be put under further strain, if the Government presses ahead with controversial new proposals.
This week, Council Leader Ken Meeson said it was “unacceptable” that local authorities would have to part-fund a new scheme - offering free home care to certain OAPs.
Speaking at Full Council, Coun Meeson said that while he supported the principle of letting pensioners stay in their own homes, it was unfair that local authorities should be saddled with costs.
“In Solihull the elderly population, particularly the over eighties, is probably the fastest growing group in relative terms. So we would be handed a bigger bill than some other authorities.”
He said the plans came when the local authority was already under immense financial pressures and that the scheme needed to be funded entirely by central government.
This week, Meriden MP Caroline Spelman warned that the plans as they stand could add £26 a year on the average council tax bill.
Lib Dem leader, Coun Ian Hedley, supported the motion put forward by the Tories - that called on central government to provide full funding.
“This is a laudable idea, but it’s going to come out of the council tax,” he said. “I also worry that the extra costs of people with the highest-need, will have a knock-on effect on people with the lowest needS. And this too could fall on the local authority, not the government.”
But Coun Graham Craig (Lab, Smith’s Wood) thought the issue was being used to attack the government.
“This is a very serious issue with the elderly population getting bigger and living longer. It should be dealt with seriously and not used for a party political broadcast.”
If the proposals become law, then the government could introduce free home care to the most vulnerable OAPs from October 1.