Care home relatives told: Miss one instalment and you stump up for year

Cllr Jonathan McColl whose SNP/Tory introduced new care home payments system by stealth and Crosslet House residential care home in Dumbarton.

 By Bill Heaney

Calls have gone out from angry relatives of care home residents across West Dunbartonshire about the introduction of new Council rules for the payment of bills.

The new rules, flagged up on social media by Sharon McIver, are that the payment system has been changed to a single yearly bill, which people are asked to pay in instalments.

The rules have been introduced secretly by the Council whose members – apart from the SNP administration – knew nothing about and were never asked to approve.

Sharon McIver appealed: “Please everyone ‘phone and complain. Bills for care homes now being changed to one yearly bill which you pay in instalments.

“If late, the full bill becomes due. You can only pay by standing order or at Clydesdale Bank. No other options. “They [the Council] have taken away the bar code on bills which enabled people to pay in the post office, [a method] which was only recently introduced.

“Pensions are paid weekly. The monthly bills are calendar monthly, which is more than four weeks’ pension.

“So, setting up a standing order could leave you overdrawn at the bank and incurring charges.

“I have been told it is the finance office that has made this a decision. The section that produce the care home bills have raised concerns.

“This means elderly people lifting pensions at post office have to carry large amounts of cash to the bank to pay the bill. Please complain.”

Betty McKillop said: “These people [the Council] are getting away with murder Bloody jobsworths. That’s all they are.”

Paul Harkins added: “That is awful, as if we all have nothing else to worry about. Scandalous.”

Cllr Jim Bollan said: “Scandalous decision and another one delegated to officers by the SNP group.

“As an opposition councillor, I had no knowledge of this.

“More and more key decisions which cause difficulties for our most vulnerable are being made by officers behind closed doors.”

He added: “I will certainly be seeking an explanation and will ask for a hold to be put on this until the change is completely reviewed.

“The Council is being run like a private company, instead of a public service.”

Sharon McIver welcomed this. She said: “Yes they had just introduced a bar code on monthly bills so you could pay at post office, which was, a lot easier and meant when lifting a pension, it could be paid [to cover care charges] right away. That has been scrapped already after just a few months.”

Fran Robertson said: “This is shocking, only giving our older community more to worry about.”

Frances McInally said: “Get it sorted WDC … you are a public service paid for by the public. Making things easier for your consumers should be a byword, not creating barriers for them.”

Angela Gibson asked: “Again, we have disgusting treatment to our elderly and their families. When is this all going to stop?”

Elizabeth McColl said people would turn to the private sector for care leaving the council with empty expensive properties which they had spent £millions building, such as the new care home at Crosslet which cost more than £10 million.

Cllr Bollan suggested that what was happening was that the SNP’s Tory-back administration were simply making it easier for these services to be privatised in the long run “which is the plan when they raise care charges and make it harder for the vulnerable to make payments”.

Both the SNP administration and the Health and Social Care Partnership, which has become part of the Council, refuse to discuss any matters of public concern with The Democrat.

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