UK

Pensioners To Be Charged 'Falling Fee' By Conservative-Controlled Tendring District Council

18/12/2015 14:27 GMT | Updated 19/12/2015 16:59 GMT

Frail and infirm pensioners will be advised to pay a special fee in order to allow a council's care workers to pick them up should they fall down at home.

Conservative-run Tendring District Council announced its proposed 'lifting charge' saying it aims to "provide a prompt response from specially trained staff" as part of its Careline elderly help service.

The Careline already charges pensioners £21.60 a month to provide a down-the-line contact service helping people to live independently in their homes for longer.

elderly fallen

Those with a higher fall risk will be encouraged to opt-in to the service

But the new proposed annual levy will be £25.92 in addition to the cost of the Careline service.

This will allow those opting in to the additional service to be attended to by fully-trained staff should they fall at home.

People have been quick to criticise the plans, with some describing the levy as "despicable" and a "PR disaster".

Labour opposition group leader Ivan Henderson lambasted the plans, telling the Mirror: "It's immoral they would even consider charging elderly people to pick them up when they have already signed up to pay at least £20 a month to be a member of Careline."

Previously, the Careline service would contact paramedics in the event of a fall, regardless of its severity.

A successful trial of the scheme confirmed demand for in-home helpers to attend those who suffer falls, but budgetary negotiations mean that an additional 'top-up' fee must now be considered by Tendring's elected Council.

Tendring Council confirmed that, if approved, the charge will come into force in April 2016.

The north east Essex authority has 23 Conservative councillors and 22 Ukip representatives among the 60 members of its full Council. Conservative councillor Fred Nicholls became Chairman of the council in May.