Telecare charges introduced for Dudley Council Tenants
It was recently announced that Dudley Council Tenants will be required to pay for the Dudley Telecare service should they have it and wish to keep it in their property. The service was previously included at no cost for those living in a Dudley Council property. For everyone else, the service has always been chargeable.
While Dudley Federation understand why it is necessary to charge for the service (the letter from Adult Social Care states that it is in preparation for the costs that will be incurred when switching from analogue to digital, and to make sure that Telecare can continue to provide a high-quality service, they to need to make the service financially sustainable), we are disappiointed at the lack of notice given to Tenants and wanted to ensure that no-one would be out of pocket or left without a service that many rely on.
With these concerns in mind, please note that no Tenant will be disconnected unless Adult Social Care have spoken with them and that is their wish.
Below you will find information compiled from the Adult Social Care team via Councillors and some questions asked by the Dudley Federation Board. We hope that this information helps to clarify the situation, and if you have any more questions feel free to submit them to us to pass on to the team, or you can contact them directly on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01384 816767. Information about the service can be found here: https://www.dudley.gov.uk/residents/care-and-health/adult-health-social-care/support-to-stay-independent/dudley-telecare-service/
If you are a Tenant who has had a letter and haven’t already taken action, we would encourage you to contact the Adult Social Care Team to let them know your situation.
How much will it cost?
To assist with the transition, until 31st March 2024 there will be discounts for existing council customers. The monthly charge for this service is normally £21.30 + VAT.
To support residents financially, this charge will be reduced initially to £10.65 + VAT (if not vat exempt) from 1st October 2023 to 31st March 2024 and then from 1st April 2024 the normal charge of £21.30 + VAT will apply.
There are two reductions available for the Telecare Service:
- If you are registered disabled, you can claim a VAT reduction. A member the Adult Social Care team will be able to post and support with the completion of the necessary form should this be required. Once a completed form is recieved they would then be able to process a VAT reduction, which will mean from 1st October 2023 the customer will pay £10.65 and then £21.30 from 1st April 2024.
- If you are in receipt of a low income and receive a Council Tax Reduction for this purpose, a reduction in the monthly charge is available. If you are entitled to a Council Tax Reduction for low income, it will be detailed on your Council Tax Bill and would say CTR – Low income. If you believe that you may be entitled to this, again, please let Adult Social Care know and they will confirm with their Council Tax department. If eligible, this will mean the monthly charge from 1st October 2023 will be £7.99 (+ VAT unless VAT exempt) and then £15.98 (+ VAT) from 1st April 2024.
If you will struggle to pay the charge but wish to keep the service, a benefits check can be carried out by the team to ensure that you are claiming all the benefits you are entitled to.
Why is this happening?
Due to the changes being made by all network providers by 2025, the current analogue system will cease to exist. By 2025, the traditional analogue telephone network that is currently used to make landline telephone calls will be switched off. All telephone calls after the switch will be made through the internet by attaching a telephone handset to their internet line, otherwise known as digital.
Many people, as yet, will not have an internet provision. When they are contacted by their phone or broadband provider and offered a digital phone line, this is when Telecare ask that customers contact to let them know the date of their upgrade. They will then provide customers with a new unit that will work with their new digital service. They will make sure that the new unit is properly connected or will look at other options with residents if reconnection is not possible at that time.
Up until customers are contacted by their network provider to have this work undertaken, their service will remain connected to Telecare exactly as it is now, should they wish to continue.
Telecare are not driving the analogue to digital switchover, and until residents are contacted by their network provider there would be no need to have broadband installed for the purposes of Telecare. They will work with customers to help them remain connected once they have been advised of their switchover date.
Further questions asked by the Dudley Federation Board and answered by Adult Social Care
- If Tenants aren’t able to get through or aren’t called back by Adult Social Care in order to let them know that they don’t want the service in time, will people still be charged from 1st October or will this be reversed/refunded?
No charge will apply until the callback has been completed. It is at the point of callback that we will advise of the next steps and discuss setting up payment for the service.
- People who have called and asked for the system to be removed, are the systems able to be disabled before being removed? Or will there be a charge until the equipment is removed from the property?
Once confirmation is received that the service is no longer required, we will then advise of the steps that will be taken to remove telecare equipment. Regardless of the length of time this takes due to our backlog, there will not be a charge incurred.
- People who decide to keep the equipment, how will this be billed and paid for, as we understand that it can’t be added to the rent bill/payment as it’s a different department.
Payment options are as follows and are charged a month in arrears:
- Direct Debit – we will post out a direct debit mandate to complete if this is the preferred payment option
- On line at www.dudley.gov.uk/make-a-payment following the link to ‘any other invoices’.
- By telephone on 0300 555 7000 when a payment is due
- Through home or electronic banking using the following details: Sort code 30-80-77 , account number 18346660, Account name DMBC-Instalments.
- In person at any facility displaying the PayPoint or Payzone logos, taking your most recent bill.
- How do Tenants apply for the disability VAT reduction?
Telecare can post the exemption form required and once received back completed can process and apply the reduction to the monthly charge.
- Letters have gone to Tenants who no longer have the system in their home, and letters are addressed to ‘the Occupier’. We are concerned that your records are not up to date and that people will be charged when they don’t have any Telecare equipment.
No charges will be incurred, once we have spoken with residents and returned all callbacks, and understand that they no longer have the equipment, we will then update the record to reflect this.
- What is the ‘charging dispute period?’
This is the period between the letter being received by the resident and us calling them back to understand their decision on how they wish to proceed.
Throughout the charging dispute period, until a decision has been reached, we would not disconnect anyone’s telecare service. Our priority is to resolve any questions or issues, to get to a positive outcome for the individual.
- If the decision was made in early 2023, why was only around two weeks’ notice given to Tenants that they would be charged for the service from 1st October?
This unfortunately was a huge undertaking contacting all customers connected to Telecare and has been done over a matter of months.