Over 1100 pensioners and vulnerable residents in West Dunbartonshire will be hit by the SNP-led Council’s decision to introduce charges for the Care of Garden Scheme.
At present the universal scheme offers free grass-cutting and garden maintenance to pensioners, the infirm and disabled residents in West Dunbartonshire.
Under the new criteria agreed by SNP councillors today, householders will only be eligible for the free service if they receive disability benefits, Attendance Allowance or a care package from the Health and Social Care Partnership. Pensioners who do not qualify under the new scheme will need to pay £70 per year.
The cuts are expected to reduce the number of households using the free service from 2631 to 1500.
Residents will also be forced to make a new application every year in a move designed to make it even harder for pensioners and vulnerable groups to benefit from the service.
Labour councillors on West Dunbartonshire Council’s Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development Committee opposed the changes today but the SNP won the vote 6 to 5.
Jackie Baillie MSP said:
“The SNP’s Garden Tax will hit over 1100 households in West Dunbartonshire. This is an outrageous decision which shifts the burden of austerity on to some of the most vulnerable residents in Dumbarton, Vale of Leven and Clydebank.”
“Local pensioners are already finding it tough to make ends meet and many will struggle to cut their grass and hedges themselves because they simply won’t be able to afford the charges. Forcing pensioners to make a new application every year is a cynical tactic to cut the numbers because it will make it even harder for people to use the free scheme.”
Cllr David McBride said:
“The SNP have shown their true colours today. The first act of the previous Labour administration was to restore the free care of garden scheme but the SNP have taken it away again just months after coming into power.
“This is a Tartan Tory policy forced through without any consultation with local pensioners. The SNP councillors did not mention this in their election manifesto and they have no mandate to slash the service.”
Notes to Editors
The first act of the new Labour administration in 2012 was to remove the charges for the care of garden scheme – http://www.dumbartonreporter.co.uk/news/13957033.Charges_scrapped_for_gardening_scheme/