Op-Ed: A story from December that many people, including this writer, may have missed, is doing the rounds again.
A 'lifting charge' which could be called a 'fall tax' on the elderly residents of Essex perhaps should be no surprise from a Tory council when you consider Tory central's Bedroom Tax fiasco.
In December the Independent reported;
Tendring District Council, in Clacton-on-Sea in Essex, has come under fire after proposing a £25.92 additional annual charge to around 2,500 Essex residents who use its Careline service.
Although reports Thursday have by and large exaggerated this annual fee somewhat it must surely be a cause for concern?
It is bad enough when a loved one can no longer live independently and needs help. It must of course be worse when that person is YOU.
One off fees may sound acceptable but sometimes they are just the start. Additional fees can be introduced here and there and in the end the resident or their family is paying extra fees for what was once available from tax revenues.
One man's opinion piece in the Guardian in December hits the nail on the head:
During my time at Essex county fire and rescue service, barely a shift went by without receiving a call from an elderly person who had fallen in their home, or from their concerned neighbour or carer.
No matter how Essex council try to spin this one they will fail.
At the heart of this story are austerity measures and budget cuts and where the axe falls. When money is tight it becomes all about choices and choosing to make the elderly pay for their vulnerability in this way just stinks.
But also at the heart of the story is the Careline Company.
As the piece in the Guardian explains elderly residents in Essex already pay an annual fee of around £21 to have the big red careline button installed in their home and the 'falling down fee' will be extra.
Will these annual fees be stagnant or rise from time to time or even frequently?
How many more one off fees? Will residents who previously received help from services funded by their council tax get a council tax refund? Of course they will not.
If Essex agrees the fee it will be put in place at the beginning of April and other councils may follow suit and it could be on a variety of charges.
Essex council looks to be in dire financial straits when you consider on "24 March 2015 - In a move designed to have a positive impact on the night time economy in urban areas and benefit commuters, the hours of part night lighting (PNL) will be ‘fine-tuned’ and reduced by one hour."
There was an obvious outcry on news of part lighting and questions about whether affected tax payers would receive a reduction in council tax.
As central government cuts budgets local councils struggle to make ends meet and what they decide to sacrifice could impact seriously on you and your health.
We wonder who operates careline and what they get out of it. We will try to find out.
[Cameron ‘buying off’ Tory MPs threatening to rebel over council cuts - Guardian]