The 100 per cent increase in the cost of community alarms in West Dunbartonshire has led to a flood of vulnerable people giving up the potentially life-saving devices.

News that the council is increasing the cost from £2.62 to £5 per week was greeted with dismay by pensioners afraid they would not be able to afford the alarms.

Daphnie Mackay, of the Clydebank Seniors Forum, said: “The alert system is a lifeline for many seniors. It is disgusting that the cost has doubled as many people, especially those on their own, rely on it.

“The forum backs any action which will help address this issue.”

West Dunbartonshire Council says the increase is necessary as the previous cost did not cover the price of providing the service.

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Jackie Baillie MSP has lodged a freedom of information request.

She wants to know the total number of alarm contracts at the end of February as well as numbers cancelled or not renewed following the increase in charges in March.

She told the Post: “The number of cancellations rose from 150 to 200 in the course of a week. That’s extraordinary.”

This week the council confirmed that “less than 200” residents had cancelled their alarms.

However, Ms Baillie added: “The recent increase to social care charges are, for many people, unaffordable and unacceptable.

“Charges such as those for community alarms, carers and blue badges are all areas that are more likely to be used by elderly people on low and fixed incomes. This group of people are least able to afford an increase of over 100 per cent.

“It would be entirely counter-productive if people ended up cancelling services they couldn’t afford and then end up in hospital as a result.”

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Meanwhile, the council said if anyone wants to restart their service, they could without delay.

The spokesperson added: “We currently have 1961 residents who have the peace of mind for themselves and their families of 24 hour support, seven days a week. Community alarms are helping residents stay at home with continuous monitoring and emergency care if required.”

Council leader Jonathan McColl, a former community alarm responder, said previously that the move to increase the cost is protecting the service and making it sustainable.

However, Councillor Jim Bollan said he is receiving daily complaints from worried vulnerable senior citizens, some of whom are housebound.