THE claim that Westminster Council's care costs are "set to rocket" is not only sensationalist but, more importantly, it has the potential to upset and unnecessarily worry vulnerable older residents in Westminster (Care costs set to rocket, Thursday April 9).

As a council we strive to ensure older people are helped to live as safely and independently as possible in order to remain in their own homes and it is important to recognise that any decision to increase charges, even by a few pence, as in this case, is only taken after lengthy and very careful consideration.

It's also particularly disappointing that your reporter did not contact our press office, but instead simply lifted information from a council report without seeking context on such an obviously important issue.

The facts of the matter are that we have charged well below the London average for our meals on wheels and homecare services for a number of years and, despite the increase, will continue to charge well below the average local authority rate in the capital.

Indeed, because we believe that "Every Older Person Matters" we continue to subsidise our valued meals on wheels service by 70 per cent and homecare by more than 25 per cent.

Additionally, as homecare services are means-tested, 80 per cent of residents will continue to pay less than the full charge, with 50 per cent of residents paying absolutely nothing.

Supporting Westminster's most vulnerable citizens is our number one priority and we are rightly proud of our track record in providing excellent services and real value for money to our city's older residents.

Anyone who would like more information on our meals on wheels services or how we care for older people in Westminster should contact the council on 020 7641 1175 or visit http://www.westminster.gov.uk/healthandsocialcare  

CLLR ED ARGAR Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Services Westminster City Council