ELDERLY people could find themselves paying more for their care from next year.

Bury Council is introducing new policies in order to comply with the Care Act, which could affect those in residential homes as well as those who receive day services.

The changes, expected to come in from January, will affect about 350 people in the borough, and include new ways of assessing who is eligible for care and their ability to pay.

Under the new policies people who only receive a day service will now be charged, although they will also have the opportunity to have a financial assessment of their ability to pay.

Those who are seen by more than one carer at the same time may also face an increase in charges, while there could also be a fee for replacement care when an unpaid carer takes a respite break.

And residential care top-up fees are also changing. Third parties who agree to pay an extra amount towards more expensive care will have to sign a legal agreement with the council.

Cllr Andrea Simpson, deputy council leader and cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said the changes would particularly affect those who don’t currently pay for day care due to the introduction of means testing.

And on families or other third parties negotiating top-up fees with the council, rather than directly with homes, she added: “Sometimes it’s better they are dealing with the council rather than the care home, because there’s a level of detachment involved. I’ve heard of scenarios where people are being asked ‘how much do you care about your mother’ – that’s not beneficial to anybody.”

Cllr Simpson says the council has to comply with the Care Act, which means introducing changes to the way people’s needs and ability to pay are assessed.

But she added that the wider question of how social care services is funded and run remained unsolved.

“This is the thing with social care, if you have got dementia you end up paying for your care, but if you’ve got cancer it’s paid for by the NHS, this is the thing around social care, there needs to be a discussion at a national level about how we bring together health and social care.

“We are doing that at the moment, but not in the sense that social care still has to be paid for, there’s a disproportionate disadvantage if people need social care. At the end of the day, people are living longer, there’s much more cost involved and it’s how you bridge that gap.

“It’s a difficult one, if you are already going to bring health and social care together we need to look how its funded at the national level.”

“We are funding NHS care through national insurance contributions, so there needs to be a discussion with the population around how we fund social care.

Her comments were echoed by James Hazeldine, chief officer at Age UK Bury.

He said: “As an organisation we realise that politicians and council officers are having to make very tough decisions that they don’t want to make and, really, what needs to happen is that the bigger picture needs to be resolved and a new funding settlement needs to be agreed. The current situation we’ve got isn’t sustainable it’s already falling apart.”

He added: "Social care in the UK is in crisis and massively underfunded. Austerity has meant £160m has been cut from public spending for older people."