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Daughter’s fury as panic button charges soar

Reporter: Gillian Potts
Date online: 28 February 2013

A DISGUSTED daughter has accused Oldham Council of putting lives at risk after hiking up the cost of their emergency response system by 122 per cent.

Freda Barnes’s 92-year-old mum was advised to sign up to the Helpline Response Service — then run by First Choice Homes — two years ago after she fell and broke her hip and was unable to raise the alarm.

Freda says the “fantastic” service — which puts her mum instantly in touch with emergency assistance at the press of a button — gave her independence in her Diggle home and he family peace of mind.

But her mother has been forced to scrap the lifeline as the weekly cost is set to more than double in April from £1.35 to £3, eventually increasing to £5 over two years.

New users to the same level of “silver” service — which offers a visit from a staff member if family cannot be contacted — will have to pay £5 a week immediately. A new “bronze” service, which includes only call-handling, will cost £2 a week.

Freda said the family is now looking for an alternative emergency service.

“To my mind this is a life or death situation,” said Freda. “Getting there quickly if there is an emergency can make all the difference.

“A lot of elderly people struggle and would be frightened to commit to more expense. It would increase from £17 to £49 a quarter for my mum, and that’s too much.

“It’s putting a price on people’s lives as far as I’m concerned and flies in the face of the Government saying it wants to help keep elderly people in their own homes.

“That can obviously only happen if families are prepared to pay for it. We already pay for carers to come in four times a day.”

Paul Cassidy, director of adult services, Oldham Council, said it wasn’t a decision made lightly.

“Our charges reflect the £5 per week average charge made by other councils in Greater Manchester,” he said.

The council previously paid £750,000 to support the service, but is now forced to ask users to pay a larger proportion. After the increase the council will contribute £440,000 a year.

Mr Cassidy added: “Most people accepted the need to raise charges but said the increase was too steep.

“We changed our proposals so existing users will pay the increase over three years.”

Around 4,500 people, mainly in sheltered housing, use the service.


Good luck if you can find a cheaper service.
I would suggest part of the increase is the fact the service is used by people for non emergency situations.

In 20 yrs time I hope people still criticize pensioners because of how much they cost the economy by insisting to live too long! I also hope that when the current crop of politician lead viceral complainers are of pension age that the papers publish how much they cost the benefit system including & not limited to: Family credit, council tax benefit, child support, subsidised nurseries, free training. Or to put it another way the services that most current pensioners never had access to.

This is dead easy! If it's too much then don't pay it! If it's essential why isn't Freda Barns offering to help pay for it?
I don't know where some people get the idea that their elderly family should be finanaced by other people in society, your parents when old are your responsibility, not the states!

“It’s putting a price on people’s lives" of course & that has to be the case. If Mrs Barnes' mother wont pay the charge then maybe Mrs B should? If she wont do it either then it shows us clearly the price she sets her mother at .....

Buy your Mum a pay as you go phone loaded with enough credit to make calls & put just your number in it. Much cheaper, but then you would be the one taking the call that she needed help!!

Well said Flake she could always put her hand in her pocket buy a mobile phone and let her mum contact her in an emergency but I'm guessing thats too much of an inconveniance for Mrs Barnes and she would rather spend her time criticising the council.

Surely this lady receives an attendance allowance, this would cover any shortfall for this bill, and the family should help to pay the difference. This is an essensial service, it has to be paid for. My late dad used it for a couple of years and certainly helped to put my mind at ease.

£5 a week is not a huge amount of money, epecially considering the service they receive, the service is monitored 24hrs a day and somebody will attend and assist should a family member be unable to, just another case of some people wanting something for nothing, as flake rightly said, if Freda is so concerned surely she or the family can scrape £5 a week together. And those who genuinely cannot afford the service but need it usually qualify for help from social services.

try lying on the floor for an hour when you have'nt got one.
and what about the loss of staff?
they did'nt get maternity pay.they stayed at home until children were school age,and if their elderly parents got ill
they cared for them.what a wonderful country.these pensioners went to war for us.are these cllrs cutting their expenses?ecco fatto

5 pounds a week 24 hrs a day dang sorry its not a lot if you think about it. Less than a pound a day for peace of mind. I remember it as the old mobile warden service in yellow fiesta vans and they was very good.

Sorry Ecco Fatto but which war was that? It's now 74 years since the start of WWII and there aren't many survivors left now. No the currecnt generation of pensioners are the baby boomers, described as the most self interested & destructive generation this country ever had the missfortune to breed. Strike after strike ruined industry, the economy so wrecked the IMF had to bail us out, massive unfunded index linked pensions, and debts our generation has been left to pay. WWII? We've had to pay fo

For my mum, I would pay any price and by the sounds of it most others would to. Flake has it spot on.

flake.and these baby boomers worked hard all their lives.starting work at 14/15.many did'nt go to university but whose taxes paid for the students at that time to go to uni?why are you assuming everyone one went on strike?we did'nt have self help books to tell us what to do.some families do look after their families.keep calm flakey.

To be honest i am sick of the pensioners getting everything or expecting everything for free & the fact i am funding this lavish lifestyle, pensioners have more money than anyone they don't pay for anything everything is free or discounted at my expense, they don't want i phone 5's or 3D 50 inch plasma tv's they just stash their cash & leave it to relatives when they pass away, i go swiming in Uppermill & i pay almost £300 a year for the privilage its full of pensioners there getting it for free

Flake you have some terrible perceptions on life, how can you describe any members of the human race as being a "misfortune to breed" (although I have spelt it correctly). It's disgraceful to try and tar every pensioner with the same brush. I hope your parents and grandparents don't have the "misfortune" to read your ridiculous and offensive posts

If she wants to save money she can have the cheapest version of the service.

This is an issue relating to people wanting to stay in their own homes. Carers coming in also cost money - at what point would Freda decide they were too expensive?

Wow, another offensive attack on pensioners by Saddleworth's (un)finest. I think you are forgetting the decades of national insurance and income tax contributions these people will have paid in their lives that gives them the right to claim their pension. I hope when I am old that I too can leave some inheritance to my family. I feel sorry for the pensioners who have to share a pool with you, they deserve better

Ecco & Bramble, they worked all their lives? Who's generalising now? They were lucky to have jobs they later destroyed for their kids! They paid insufficient NI & tax and spent far more than they paid in. My generation had to pay for the students as part of the debts they left us.
The misfortune to breed is not my phrase, but it is accurate.
The bobay boomer generation has had a very cushy time at spent the inheritance and ran up huge debts for us to pay, time they suffered with all of us !


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