Many thousands of pensioners across the UK are being given as little as one week’s notice before the cost of their care home fees increases.
A new investigation, conducted by the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), found that the annual fees in England jumped by an average of £900 during the last financial year.
More troubling still is that almost one in ten of the homes which were looked at as part of the study were giving just seven days’ notice of the rise.
Citizens Advice criticised the tactic of revealing the new fees only days before they were due to take effect.
In its report, the charity said that many families had little choice but to pay the increased amount, since the short notice gave people little time to determine if the rise was fair and attempt to negotiate if they believed it wasn’t.
Gillian Guy, the CAB’s chief executive, feared that those in care homes were increasingly at the mercy of the increased costs.
“A week’s notice puts enormous pressure on care home residents or their families to pay,” she said.
“It is unreasonable for vulnerable people to face such a small window to compare costs and make alternative arrangements if they cannot afford the higher fees.
“Some people are also being caught out by hidden extra care fees appearing on their bill. Nobody can be expected to budget for extra costs that are not clearly set out by the provider.”
The CAB has recommended that residents or their families receive at least four weeks’ advance warning of a change in fees.