'Elderly will be left to vegetate' when council begin charging to take people to Hull daycare centre, say staff
SOME of society's most vulnerable will be left to "vegetate" at home once the city council begins charging to take people to a north Hull daycare centre, claim worried staff.
More than 80 people, ranging in age from 60 to 106, regularly attend Endike Community Care Association – open seven days a week – in 21st Avenue.
But Hull City Council, under pressure to make huge savings, has told management it intends to charge people £1.50 each way from April.
Eileen Wright fears the charge will harm the centre, which formed 20 years ago to keep pensioners independent.
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She said: "People will be left to vegetate at home, feeling isolated from society and the next thing we'll hear is someone being found collapsed on the floor.
"I know the council has to save money – we understand that. But this will put a severe strain on our centre.
"People will not be able to afford these charges – £3 a day is a lot of money for pensioners on limited budgets.
"There are couples who come here four or five times a week – that will cost £30.
"Everyone here is very worried about this."
Users of the centre already pay £6, which entitles them to a nutritious breakfast and lunch, as well as afternoon snacks.
"It is a small charge for what they get in return," said Mrs Wright.
Although the centre is served by a bus route, with the nearest stop in Endike Lane, Mrs Wright says many would be averse to using public transport.
"We have a few users who are in their early 60s, but most are well into their 80s," she said.
"Some have Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. Some have depression. There are people who would not even be able to find us when they got off the bus.
"For most people, taxis would not be an option.
"With the council transport service, users as well as their families, know they will be looked after and taken door-to-door.
"A good relationship has formed between the driver and the centre users."
In addition to the transport charge, Endike Community Care as been told to expect a cut to its annual grant from the council – last year worth £110,000 – of between 5 and 10 per cent
Mrs Wright said: "We are the only independent daycare centre for miles.
"We don't just cater for people from north Hull. People from Bransholme and east Hull travel to use this centre too."
In a statement, Councillor Daren Hale, deputy leader of the council and portfolio holder for finance, said: "We are losing 8p in every £1, so we have to make some difficult decisions. By introducing a flat rate of £1.50 per journey it means we are able to continue providing the transport service for those using day care facilities.
"This is still a small contribution towards the actual cost of providing transport and it brings us in line with how other local authorities operate."