Elderly people facing crippling charges for Sheffield Council’s 24-hour emergency alarms service are being offered a cheaper alternative.
Johnnie Johnson Housing Trust says it charges £13.75 a month for an alarm backed up with on-call staff 24 hours a day, subject to a £45 set-up fee.
Sheffield Council is charging all 8,700 of its Care4You alarm users £20.90 per month, 15 per cent of which goes to cover ‘administration fees’ on top of the actual cost of the service.
Some users previously did not have to pay the full fee but all subsidies have now been scrapped – with the council blaming Government cuts to its budget.
Cheryl Stevens, of Johnnie Johnson, said: “We charge £13.75 a month for the monitored alarm, with an additional £45 initial fee. The alarm is the latest Tynetec Reach model which is very modern and discreet.
“Our website is Call Safe and we provide alarms nationally. We would also be able to do a discounted rate, of the first three months half price.”
She added: “We have been in competition with councils for a while now with our own monitoring service and people often have no clue that they can go elsewhere.
“We are a part of a housing association and are a registered charity – therefore we are non-profit so we charge far less than the local authority for what is in our opinion a much better service!”
Sheffield Council has come under fire from Care4You users.
Neville Platts, aged 77, from Manor Top, said: “It is not fair to ask old age pensioners for this sort of money.”
Alan Bragger added: “They charge more than anybody else.”
Sheffield Council’s opposition Lib Dem leader Coun Shaffaq Mohammed said: “It’s unfair that Labour are asking elderly and vulnerable people to pay more.
“The alarms service helps vulnerable people feel safe in their home – the fee should be to cover the cost of the service only.”