Care Connect consultation
During October and November 2015, we consulted about changes to how we charge for our community alarm system, Care Connect.
Our community alarm service is non-statutory and helps users live independently in their own home by providing an alarm monitoring and response service 24 hours a day. Many users are older people and some also receive a social care service.
To help achieve savings of £260 million by 2020, it was agreed in December 2013 to cut the cost of running Care Connect by £1 million. This included no longer offering the pendant and intercom service free of charge to people who were new to Care Connect and who were in receipt of Guaranteed Pension Credit, council tax reduction or housing benefit.
Anyone who was already signed up to the service and did not pay a charge was given protection from charging for two years.This period ends on 31 March 2016.
What was proposed?
With a further £750,000 of savings required in order to ensure the continuation of the Care Connect service, we proposed to begin charging all users from April 2016:
- The full cost of receiving the community alarm service to increase from £4.60 per week (excluding VAT) to £4.80 per week (excluding VAT).
- A charge of £2.80 per week (excluding VAT) for those people who currently receive a free service.
You told us
Feedback regarding the introduction of a charge of £2.80 per week to those who currently receive a free service:
- 4,523 survey forms both online and paper copies were returned, resulting in a 53% return rate.
- 38% said they agreed with the proposal to introduce a contributory charge to those currently receiving the service free.
Regarding the increase the current charge from £4.60 per week to £4.80 per week (excluding VAT) to those who currently pay for the service, the response was lower on this part of the consultation with only a 10% return. We believe this is most likely because this charge is reviewed annually and customers expect the charge to change. Of those who responded, 20% disagreed with the increase and 80% agreed, stating that they relied on the service and felt it provided value for money.
What happens next?
A further report containing the consultation results will be presented to councillors on 16 March 2016. Any changes to the service would not come into effect until April 2016.
The consultation outcome report is included in our Cabinet agenda and minutes 16 March 2016.