Falkirk social care charges are scrutinised by MSPs

While personal care and nursing for those over-65 is free, services such as meal deliveries are charged for
While personal care and nursing for those over-65 is free, services such as meal deliveries are charged for

The fees charged by Falkirk Council for social care have been questioned by a Scottish Parliament committee.

The local authority was one of three to be examined by MSPs after campaign group Scotland Against the Care Tax petitioned Holyrood to abolish non-residential social care charges for older and disabled people.

The public petitions committee last week used Falkirk, Moray and Argyle & Bute councils as examples of how social care charges vary across Scotland.

Convener David Stewart MSP said: “The issue for the committee is the huge disparity in social care charges made by local authorities. The evidence focused on charges made in Moray, Argyle & Bute and Falkirk, and we will write to these local authorities for clarification.

“There has been significant and unacceptable delay in the Scottish Government and COSLA addressing the 
issues around social care charges.”

A letter was sent to Falkirk Council asking why its charges were relatively low compared to other councils.

Nursing and personal care for those aged 65 and over is free in Scotland, but councils can charge for non-residential services such as day care, laundry services, housework, meal provision, and home adaptations for disabled people.

Councillor Linda Gow, portfolio holder for health and social care, said: “These charges are not imposed through choice.

“The services cost the council money and we have to find a way of paying for them.

“I agree with the petitioner and with points made by Mr Stewart, except for on COSLA. I attend regular COSLA meetings and I do not know a single Labour councillor who wants these charges.

“Different councils charge for different things - there will be some services in Falkirk that we may offer for free, which are charged for elsewhere. The council is very restricted in how it raises money to pay for services. The Scottish Government is committed to freezing the council tax.”

Last week it was reported that Falkirk Council faces a £40 million reduction in spending over three years.

The Falkirk Herald asked the local authority to provide details on its social care charges, but it declined to comment.