DUDLEY Council is adding nearly 14 per cent to day care charges for people with dementia or complex disabilities.

The hike, which is 12 per cent higher than the current rate of inflation, affects services based at the Crystal Gateway in Stourbridge and Dudley’s Queens Cross Network.

The rise means building-based and outreach services will go up from £6.07 to £6.91 per hour from July 1.

Dudley Council cabinet member for adult social care, Cllr Andrea Goddard, said: “I understand this can be really upsetting to some people as they have to work out the new rate of pay, and no one ever wants to raise prices, especially to those in need of care but with inflation we have to think practically, to be able to financially provide the service. 

“It still represents a fantastic service for the price. The hourly charge is equivalent to about 40 per cent of the cost of home care and doesn’t cover the full cost of the service, which the council will continue to fund.”

Charges for these services have not gone up since 2019 and were waved completely during the height of the pandemic in 2021.

Not all service users will have to find extra cash for the service, if people are already paying their maximum assessed care contribution or have a nil charge on their financial assessment they will not see any change.

The increase will not just cover costs but also raise £6,700 more than the budget for the service for the current financial year.

Cllr Adam Aston, Labour’s shadow cabinet member for public health and adult social care, said: “Any increase in fees levied on the most vulnerable members of our community is unfortunate, although I acknowledge there has been no increase for at least the last five years.

“I certainly hope the extra cost of 84 pence per hour won’t put people off utilising the service, both Crystal Gateway and Queens Cross Centre provide a vital lifeline for people living with dementia and physical/sensory disabilities respectively, they offer respite for carers, stimulating activities and a haven from loneliness. 

“In terms of the £6.7k income, I understand this is describing additional income this year to offset a small proportion of the amount by which the council is subsidising the service. 

“It is not ‘making money’ for the authority.”

Cllr Goddard added that she was confident people will get help if needed and will be directed towards where they can claim benefits if necessary.

She added: “We do not anticipate anyone attending the dementia gateways services or Queens Cross to stop using the services.”