ANGRY pensioners are ready to revolt over new home care charges - claiming they cannot afford the price hike.

Dozens of outraged older people have called the Citizen to complain about Lancashire County Council's non-residential care charges since the paper highlighted one person's plight last week.

They say they simply cannot afford the care they need because of rocketing costs - which in some cases soared by 600 percent.

"My disabled friend Wyn relies on the help of the carers but her fees have risen from £12.50 to £25 per week, knocking her finances sideways. She can't do without it but just can't afford it," says William Bury, of Penhill Gardens, Heysham.

"Lancashire County Council is way off line. I thought Labour would be looking after the working class people and not stealing from pensioners," adds the 68-year-old.

Dorothy Wadsworth, of Heysham, says she got a letter informing her of the increase on the day that new charges took effect.

"For three hours of care per week there was an increase from £7.50 to £17.58, so I panicked and cancelled the service straight away. I am upset and cross because it is such a big jump," she adds.

Carers did her heavy cleaning and shopping and since losing the service she has found it 'very hard work', she says.

"I can't do all that needs doing but that is the way it will have to be."

Another angry pensioner, who saw her fees increase from £8 to £46, says no pensioner could afford the 'ridiculous' rates.

Ena Bradshaw, 71, of Lancaster, says her two-hours-a-week carer got her rate increased to £22 but it was slashed again to £9 after she realised she had sent a form back uncompleted.

"Most days my carer is the only person I see and so it is not just the service I will lose but the personal contact," adds Mrs Bradshaw.

Andrew Lynn, spokesperson for social services, says: "It is a national initiative and every county council around England has had to comply. It should not be seen as an increase in charges but more a fairer access to services and more people will benefit from it. "

He says he cannot talk about individual case but adds: "People have been on low charges when they can afford more - it is now a means tested system."

Conservative spokesman for social services, County Cllr Joyce Stuart, has expressed 'deep concern' at what she says seem 'incredibly high' increases.

She told the Citizen: "This is yet another stealth tax. The formula used in imposing new charges for care will involve some people having to pay up to £20 per week more."

She adds: "We have supported the shift to domiciliary care on the basis that this is what people want. However, any increases must be affordable to the clients - in other words the Government must put its money where its mouth is."

Morecambe and Lunesdale MP Geraldine Smith says it is 'quite wrong' if the charges have increased dramatically, putting vulnerable people at risk.

"To increase home help charges would be out of step with Lancashire County Council's policy, which encourages people to stay in their own homes and avoid residential care," she adds.

Pensioners concerned about fees can call social services on 0800 328 2507.