HEALTH chiefs in Argyll and Bute have refuted claims that people in the area are paying more for their community alarms than most of Scotland.

Helensburgh’s MSP Jackie Baillie circulated figures gained from a Freedom of Information (FoI) request which showed that Argyll and Bute’s community alarm charge was the second highest in the country –and neighbouring West Dunbartonshire is the third highest.

Neighbouring West Dunbartonshire Council, part of whose area Ms Baillie also represents, was flagged up as the third most expensive.

But the Argyll and Bute health and social care partnership [HSCP] and West Dunbartonshire Council hve hit back at the claims, with the latter saying that the figures are not comparing like with like.

Ms Baillie’s FoI request showed that Argyll and Bute Council charged £275 for a community alarm in 2019/20, with West Dunbartonshire charging £260.

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Edinburgh City Council’s price is £302 for a basic alarm – which is still the highest figure on the spreadsheet – and £438 for an enhanced one.

Ms Baillie, whose Dumbarton constituency covers the Helensburgh and Lomond area of Argyll and Bute Council, said: “It is outrageous that West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute Councils are amongst the highest charging local authorities in Scotland for community alarms.

“Both councils are charging elderly and vulnerable residents, on low and fixed incomes, unmanageable costs to have alarms in their homes.

“These alarms are a vital addition to many homes across my constituency and tThere have been hundreds of cancellations from local people who feel they simply can no longer afford to pay the charge.

“Both West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute have some serious questions to answer when avoidable accidents start to happen due to people no longer being able to afford alarms.”

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However, an Argyll and Bute HSCP spokesperson said: “Our charge reflects the cost of delivering the basic package of support across Argyll and Bute’s vast geography.

“All of the income generated is used to support the continued delivery and development of the telecare service. The HSCP invested an additional £50,000 in 2019/20 to enhance the service.”

And a West Dunbartonshire Council spokesperson added: “It would be misleading to say West Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership is amongst the highest in Scotland, as the figures quoted are not comparable.

“The WDHSCP monthly charge incorporates a 24 hour response service; emergency personal care and additional sensors including smoke; heat and flood detectors whereas other authorities charge separately for each of these services.”

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