‘Dementia tax’ plans

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SOME dementia sufferers and their carers are facing a six-fold increase in the cost of day care following an overhaul of the payments system by Sheffield Council.

Previously there was a flat-rate fee of £5 a week, irrespective of a person’s financial circumstances, for a range of dementia day care services such as trips to the shops and to tourist attractions.

But now the authority is means-testing the charges - and will be asking people with more than £3,000 in savings to pay £32 a week from July.

A recent survey by the Alzheimer’s Society estimated 6,312 people suffer from dementia in Sheffield.

The charity is worried the price rise will add further to the financial burden of caring for people with dementia, and increase isolation for sufferers and their carers.

Caroline Kendrew, from the Society, said: “We believe charging for care is a ‘dementia tax’ and places a huge financial burden on people with dementia and their carers.

“Unlike people with other health conditions, people with dementia often have to pay for their personal care if they live have home, funding such daily needs as eating, dressing and personal hygiene.

“Alzheimer’s Society research has shown people with dementia want to stay at home for as long as possible and that for the public purse it is cost-effective for them to do so - but in order for this to happen they need to receive appropriate support and services to help them to live well with their dementia for as long as possible.”

Eddie Sherwood, director of care and support at Sheffield Council, said: “The system is based on an individual financial assessment and people will only be asked to pay if they have the ability.

“Nobody would be asked to pay if they were not in a position to do so.”

As part of Sheffield Council’s Fairer Contributions System, service users who have savings of more than £3,000 will be asked for a maximum 70 per cent contribution towards the cost of the services.

The council estimates 35 per cent of customers will not be affected by the changes and will not have to pay any extra.