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scamtelephoneA two-month consultation is being proposed on plans to increase the amount the council charges service users for the Wightcare community alarm and telecare service.

A report on the consultation and planned changes is due to go before a meeting of the council’s Executive on 10th February.

The council has not increased its charges for five years and this has resulted in a growing gap between the cost of delivering the service and recovering income.

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The report details options to raise charges by £4 a week (including an option to do so on a staggered basis over a two-year period). Currently Wightcare provides three levels of service, ranging from £2.65 to £7 per week, dependent on the support required.

Executive member for adult social care, Councillor Steve Stubbings, said:

“Wightcare delivers a high quality and invaluable service and we are determined that this should continue to a standard which supports, protects and reassures our service users.

“For the current financial year there is an income deficit approaching £500,000 on the service – and we are having to closely consider its financial viability set against the major funding pressures the council is facing.

“The consultation will help us to fully consider the impact these proposals will have on service users before coming to any decision.”

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Wightcare provides a 24-hours a day, 365-days a year emergency support service to approximately 2,300 vulnerable residents on the Island. It enables residents to maintain their independence through the community alarm/telecare service – with a call monitoring and mobile response service for emergencies also available.

Wightcare also operates the call answering service for the council’s out-of-hours provision for adult social care, housing and some other services – as well as call answering for various partner agencies.

Factors which have led to the increased cost of running the service, include fuel costs, equipment, insurance, maintenance costs and inflation.

Some clients have also required a significant level of mobile response support due to their complex care needs, which has meant that these cases are more cost intensive.

As part of the proposed consultation, all current subscribers would be written to and offered the chance to complete a questionnaire either online or using a paper copy. Helpline support would be available to assist with the questionnaire – and also assistance for those with visual impairment or a learning disability.

Stakeholder groups would also be consulted, including People Matter IW, which would facilitate an open consultation meeting.

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