Hundreds hand back care alarms

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More than 200 people using care alarms returned the “lifeline” equipment after charges were introduced by Midlothian Council last year.

There were 1762 clients using the Midcare and Telecare service on April 1. Since the introduction of an annual £104 charge, 204 clients have cancelled the service.

The figures, obtained by local Labour activist Kenny Young through Freedom of Information legislation, do not include those who have died, left the area or moved into a care home.

The FOI request also suggested that the council’s SNP-led administration ignored warnings that charges could lead to service users handing the alarms back.

Feedback from a council consultation included comments such as: “I would rather hand back the alarm than pay even though it is the only security I have.”

The FOI response also revealed there were 12 official complaints over the charges.

But the SNP this week defended the move, insisting the charges were “a very small cost to the individual”.

Dalkeith resident Mr Young said: “We knew from what people were telling us that some people had sadly handed their alarms back after this charge came in, but these new figures are seriously worrying.

“Care alarms are a real lifeline for people, and if this alarm tax is putting people off having them the consequences could be tragic.

“It is appalling that the SNP think there is enough money to run a taxpayer-funded council newspaper, but not enough to provide these lifeline alarms for free. The consultation details released show that the SNP council ignored serious warnings about their £104 charge. Now it’s time for them to listen to people and scrap the alarm tax.”