THERE are fears Fife Council’s budget cuts will leave pensioners increasingly isolated and out of pocket.
Proposals to plug a £77 million gap in the finances include closing Rosyth Resource Centre, a day care facility for older people with physical and mental health needs.
Margaret Murdoch, secretary of the Dunfermline Elderly Forum and vice chair of the Scottish Pensioners Forum, said, “The worst thing they could do is close these care centres as they are very important, especially for people with poor health and those who have no other company.
“There are an awful lot of single people now that use this service and it would be a real loss.
“It’s been such an advantage by giving elderly people somewhere to go, giving them some company and stopping them getting stuck in the house and feeling depressed.
“There are so few of these care centres as it is and it isn’t just people from Rosyth that use the centre, they come from Dunfermline and other areas too.
“I think it would be tragic if it closed.” The Labour administration are also talking about slashing the money they give to subsidise bus routes and for demand responsive transport, like Ring and Ride.
Mrs Murdoch said, “If they cut this service an awful lot of people will be hit as they don’t have any other way to get to dental, hospital and bank appointments.
“Ring and Ride is a really good facility to allow people to go out and do their own shopping and be a bit more independent.
“It’s well used and it would be terrible if it was cut.” She added, “If there is less subsidy and less bus services you’ll get more people tied to their homes unless they have some other form of transport.
“There are people going to clubs in the evening mainly for company and it gives them something to look forward to.
“If there are going to be less services it’ll make it harder for these people.” Mrs Murdoch said pensioners were already suffering with both Fife Council and NHS Fife struggling to cope with the increasing demand for health and social care services, which has led to bed blocking in hospitals.
“Carers are so important and it’s another area we fear cuts will fall,” she said.
She was also concerned about disabled drivers having to pay a new £20 charge for a Blue Badge, stating, “That’s ridiculous.
“It’s such an important thing to have and they’ve made it much harder to actually get one as it is.
“I think it’s a shame if they’re going to introduce a charge for the Blue Badge. I know they do it in other places but people who have never had to pay would now have to.” The proposals were included in a draft budget paper that was discussed at a meeting on Tuesday, but the council warned they face tough decisions to bridge the budget gap.
They are also looking at increasing the charge for concessionary rail travel from 50p to £1 but Mrs Murdoch said, “More elderly people probably use the buses as they’re free.
“I don’t see this increase making much of a difference to the budget gap.”