CUSTOMERS of the Isle of Wight Council's 'tremendously underused and undervalued' Wightcare service will see their fees increase.

A 13 per cent price hike for the discretionary service was originally approved in February as part of the 2022/23 budget but its implementation was halted after concerns were raised.

Now a review of its business model has been approved so the council can work out the service's future.

Cllr Chris Jarman, cabinet member for strategic finances, said this will look at Wightcare as a separate council business which had not always been the case.

He said it was a tremendously underused and undervalued service on the Island and the council should do everything it can to make sure it is financially viable and encourage as many people as they can to take advantage of the service.

Wightcare fees have not increased since 2018 and the service had needed to be subsidised by the wider adult social care budget.

Last year, the authority paid out nearly £300,000 to help the service and is looking at an overspend of around £170,000 in the current financial year.

Cllr Jarman said it was not right to take money from the frontline and critical adult social care services to subsidise the commercial entity as it would need to stand on its own two feet.

The 13 per cent price rise comes as the authority looks to bridge the 36 per cent gap between how much it costs to run the service and how much it makes.

How much will charges increase?

  • The one-off installation charge for the service from £80 to £90
  • Monitoring from £6.80 to £7.70 per month
  • Monitoring and response from £9.72 to £11 per month
  • Telecare from £11.25 to £12.73 per month

Cllr Karl Love, cabinet member for adult social care, said in many ways the service represents a saving, as it works in a preventative, early intervention capacity, stopping people's health from deteriorating.

He said they never wanted to raise costs but with the continual decline in the adult social care budget there needed to be income generation and small rises in fees.

He said: "We will have to do something quite significant in the future unless we get the promised money from government to fix adult social care."