LOCAL families who rely on social care for respite say they have been left on the breadline by crippling increases in charges for a range of lifeline services.

Our sister title The Glasgow Times spoke to those now struggling to make ends meet after being hit by hikes of up to 75 per cent to attend non-residential adult day care centres.

Most of those who rely on social care are disabled with complex medical needs and say the decision by Glasgow’s Health and Social Care Partnership to up its charges is eating up around three quarters of their social security benefits amid a cost-of-living crisis.

Many have been left facing hardship, with barely enough money left each month to survive.

The families say they are yet to receive a reasonable justification for the rise they believe targets those who need help the most.

Charity bosses, councillors and worried parents are calling for a new strategy for social care provision, along with assurances that there won’t be further increases at the start of the upcoming financial year in April after a hike was imposed then in 2023.

Denise Gilmour knows only too well the difficulties people face to cover the cost of supporting their loved one.

Clydebank Post: Denise and Billy GilmourDenise and Billy Gilmour (Image: Gordon Terris, Newsquest)

Her son Billy, 21, was starved of oxygen at birth, leaving him deaf and suffering from severe epilepsy. He attends Fortune Works’ service in Drumchapel five days a week and has gone from paying £121 to £207 per month.

Denise, who is also Billy’s full-time carer, said: “He loves going there and it’s often the only respite carers such as myself get. Billy has complex medical needs and after he suffered a prolonged seizure, I had to start volunteering at the centre to help administer his medication, making it impossible for me to work.

“We were stunned to receive a letter saying that the cost of his contributions to attend were shooting up by so much. It just seems that the more social care help you need, the more you are being charged. Billy’s confidence has grown so much since he started going to Fortune Works, he thinks of it as his wee job, He’s met friends and it’s a place where he feels safe and secure.

“But the reality is that the cost to attend for five days each week has gone through the roof. The expense is met by his Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment, so when you take into consideration bills, clothing and food, there’s really not much to live off. It was already a struggle to make ends meet before the increase was introduced, but now it’s almost impossible.”

Denise, 44, from Drumchapel, says she doesn’t know how the family will cope financially if there are any further hikes.

She added: “I worry myself sick to be honest. The services themselves don’t seem to be benefitting from more money coming in, so where is the cash going?

“It is unfair to target the most vulnerable in society and I’m still waiting for any reasonable justification as to why we are paying more each month.”

Frances Lapping, from Yoker, is also a full-time carer for her son David. She says that if contributions continue to rise, she will be forced to consider reducing his time at Fortune Works.

Clydebank Post: Frances and David LappingFrances and David Lapping (Image: Colin Mearns, Newsquest)

David, 25, who has autism and learning difficulties, has been attending the day centre since 2022 and his mother says it has transformed his life.

Frances, 61, said: “He has come on enormously since he started going to Fortune Works. Not only does he feel like he is making a contribution and building his social skills, but it gives me a wee bit of respite as well. It’s tough being a full-time carer, there’s next to little support out there.”

She adds: “Initially David was paying £110 monthly, which comes directly off his benefits. But he’s now being charged £183, which is a massive rise in real terms. My husband works nights, and we manage, but we do worry about David’s financial future. If the cost goes up again in April, we will be forced to look at how often David can attend.

“We are getting older, and I worry what will happen when we are not here. If the cost of someone’s social care keeps rising, how are they expected to live? A 75 per cent increase for the exact same service he was getting 12 months ago is just outrageous.”

Clydebank Post: David, Frances and son David LappingDavid, Frances and son David Lapping (Image: Colin Mearns, Newsquest)

Frances describes the centre as a lifeline for son, whose medical issues mean it’s difficult to find full-time employment.

She added: “It just seems like a backdoor way to claw back people’s benefits. Everyone is assessed differently depending on how much help they need, so we want assurances now from GCHSCP that we won’t face any further hikes.”

Richard Baker, head of external affairs and campaigns at charity Enable, says the sector has reached crisis point and is calling for an urgent review of social care costs.

He said: “We are seeing more and more people asking us for advice and support. These are society’s most vulnerable and the stress they are under because of the increases in charges, and the threat of more, is quite frankly unacceptable.

“We need assurances that what people are paying won’t continue to rise.”

Labour councillor Robert Mooney, who himself is registered blind, says he is also being contacted by constituents seeking help.

He added: “It is time their needs were put at the top of the health and social care partnership’s agenda. People can’t go on like this. Once again, the disabled and vulnerable are being unfairly targeted.”

A spokeswoman for Glasgow’s Health and Social Care Partnership said: “These services look at people’s ability to pay and are adjusted accordingly. 

“Providers, on behalf of service users, were asked to raise any concerns at the time regarding their ability to pay in order for care managers to assess their needs and make any recommendations to adjust costs accordingly.”