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Day centre fees rise 'will cause isolation'
Elderly people in Witney could see their quality of life reduced if plans to raise day centre charges go ahead, it has been claimed.
Oxfordshire County Council is consulting on plans to increase the daily charge for using the Elms Day Centre in Moorland Avenue from £1.30 to £15.
The county is examining whether to withdraw its subsidy for transport and attendance of day centres.
It maintains that those it deems eligible for social care will still be able to afford to attend the centres because they will get extra money in their ‘personal budgets’ Arash Fatemian, county council cabinet member for adult services, said no decision had yet been made.
He explained: “It will not make a difference to those who are eligible for the service. They will get the money back through their personal budgets. We felt those eligible should not be subsidising those who are not.”
He said even if costs do increase they will be “nowhere near” those of neighbouring counties.
But the Friends of Elms said the plans could cause many elderly people to become isolated.
Friends chairman Chris Moxon said: “Those who are not going to receive money through subsidy will not be able to afford to use the centre. From a social point of view, it will mean they are trapped within four walls of their house on a day they would otherwise not be.
“For some it is the only time they get out. Their quality of life will be reduced.”
He added: “From my experience as a volunteer, they look forward so much to getting out of their house and meeting other people. It does make a difference.”
Andrew Coles, West Oxfordshire District Council Labour member for Witney Central, said: “People tell me they will not be able to afford attending the centre.
“One chap currently pays about £12 to attend two days a week and now it could cost him £30.
“He is not going to be able to afford to go and will not be able to get the advice and support the centre offers. It will have a detrimental impact on him and it is desperately unfair.”
He added: “The elderly have contributed so much to our country and they should be getting the support back from us.”
The Elms Day Centre is run by Leonard Cheshire Disability, a charity that provides help for disabled people, on behalf of the county council.
The centre provides entertainment, trips, exercise and a two-course cooked meal for about 35 elderly people Monday to Friday.
Mr Fatemian said County Hall was working with groups and volunteers across Oxfordshire to make sure the elderly did not become isolated.
The county council provides a personal care budget for the elderly, which can include contributions toward time at day centres, based on assessments. The consultation will end on October 31.