Charge for community alarm system has been capped by South Lanarkshire Council
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A request had been made to the executive committee to increase the weekly charge paid by users to £4.10, up from £1.70. This was to help cover increasing costs of providing the service and to bring it more into line with costs in other parts of Scotland.
However, this was rejected after the Labour Group that leads the council administration proposed limiting the increase this year to 50p – leaving the weekly charge at £2.20 and still the lowest among similar councils across Scotland.
Committee members had been asked to consider the larger increase as part of plans to bridge a £15.3 million budget gap for 2023-24 being faced by the area’s Integration Joint Board (IJB), which oversees the area’s health and social care.
Council Leader Joe Fagan said: “Like the council and all parts of the public sector, health and social care are having to contend with underfunding and consequent financial pressures. The IJB has to plug a significant budget gap and we totally sympathise with the position they find themselves in.
“However, the community alarm system is a key part of care at home and harm prevention. The alarms help people live at home as long as possible. They also help relieve the pressure and stress on carers.
“That is why we agreed to limit the increase to 50p and keep the charge as the lowest among similar councils. We appreciate this means the IJB will need to find other ways to balance their budget, but we are absolutely sure this is the right and most compassionate approach at this time.”
An amendment from Margaret Walker, chairwoman of the council’s social work resources committee, proposed the cap on this year’s increase to bring the new weekly charge to £2.20.
The amendment was approved by members of the committee unopposed.
The committee also agreed to ask the IJB to consider redesigning the Community Alarm Alert Service to moderate future charge increases and provide a service more in line with that provided in other parts of Scotland.