Redbridge Council has been accused of “taxing the disabled” in new plans for funding respite care.

Those who use respite care services, which allow carers to have a break from their duties, at Green Lodge in Woodford have been told they may have to pay more for the service, despite having been handed surprise bills last year.

Chris Roper, 73 of Chadwell Heath, who cares for his 41-year-old son Paul, who has severe learning difficulties, has been told he and his family must pay the difference between the cost of respite care at Green Lodge and other cheaper facilities elsewhere.

But despite asking for the names of these other centres, the father has not been provided with any details by the council and he is worried this could mean vulnerable people being moved outside the borough for care.

He said: “In effect, this is taxing those with the highest needs in the borough; taxing disability and carers.

“Charging more won’t affect us personally, but what about those who cannot afford it?

“What sort of message is this sending to carers? Carers who need to recuperate and get back to their caring and who save the borough a fortune. These breaks can be in what can amount to decades of caring for relatives. Charging for respite care will end up costing the council more.

“What the council wants to do is enable people to live independently, and that’s fine for those with capacity, but most of those living at Green Lodge don’t have the capacity to be independent. They are and always will be totally dependent on others for their safety and wellbeing.

“The council overlooks these people time and again.”

In September 2018, the Roper family and others using respite care facilities at Green Lodge were handed retrospective bills by the council.

Mr Roper said the bills were a result of changes to who pays for care provision at the centre, which was previously block-funded by the NHS, meaning families would now have to pay for any services used.

But the father added that no families were consulted about these changes before they were implemented.

At the time, Redbridge Council apologised to those involved and offered to pay for any respite care received up until October 2018.

But now, Mr Roper is worried these further incremental funding changes could affect the borough’s most vulnerable.

He is worried that if people are moved outside the borough for care services, the transport to get them there would be prohibitive either in terms of distance or cost.

He added: “God knows where they’ve dreamed up these other respite care centres both inside and outside of the borough that we’re supposed to be paying the difference towards. I’ve not been told of any names of any other establishments the council is paying.

“Then there’s the issue of transport. The wheels tend to fall off council provided transport as soon as it moves outside of the borough, so where will that leave people?”

A spokesman for Redbridge Council said: “The council are committed to funding respite care for our residents that need it as we recognise the value and importance for service users, their carers and families. Green Lodge is one of our respite care providers and we intend to continue to offer placements for those who are eligible.

“We have put forward a proposal for a review of this care service to ensure it continues to meet our residents’ needs and deliver value of money for residents. We don’t intend to remove the service from Green Lodge but to ensure the care is appropriate for everyone who requires respite services across all our providers.

“In terms of out of borough provision, a decision will only be made once we carry out a review of the availability, quality of service and ability to meet individual needs as well as ensuring we fully engage with people who use the service, their carers and families.”