Pensioners are demanding Dundee City Council drop a fee that charges them for having a shower in their sheltered housing homes.
Members of the Dundee Pensioners Forum pleaded with the councillors at this week’s policy and resources committee to drop a shower charge that is costing elderly residents between £5 and £10 a week.
Forum secretary Dorothy McHugh said many pensioners had already paid over and above the average price of a shower since the policy’s implementation in 2007.
It was introduced 12 years ago to offer a shower for those in properties without one.
The policy originally stated it would be in place for the “lifetime of the tenancy”, but at some point in 2011 this was changed to the “lifetime of the building”.
This means some residents have had to take on the charge when moving into a new address, even if they did not need to pay the charge in the previous one.
An option to phase it out over five years — at a cost of £118,000 — was put forward as part of a recent rent consultation, but it did not find favour with tenants.
Councillors agreed with tenant’s wishes for a 3.75% increase to rent, rather than a 4% increase, which would have meant the charge could have been dropped.
Councillors were broadly supportive of the pensioners’ case but were warned removing the fee could cost the authority as much as half a million pounds a year.
Douglas Neill, another member of the pensioners forum who spoke at the committee meeting, said: “I have been told that by law it is legal, but a private landlord couldn’t rent a place out without a shower or bath.
“I know a few people paying it and it is affecting them.
“It was brought in overnight, so it should be the same process to remove it.”
Dorothy said: “It’s an outrageous policy. It’s disproportionately affecting older people.
“People who are paying the charge are in effect subsidising other council rent payers as if the charge was dropped, the cost of rent would have to be increased to make up for it.
“There seems to be a unilateral agreement that this is unfair. We appreciate there are issues with the ringfenced funding, but surely if there is a will there is a way.”
Labour councillor Richard McCready said: “Are we actually saying that in 2019 having a shower is a luxury?
“I don’t think anyone would agree with that. This is something we should be looking at.”
Council leader John Alexander said at a Pensioners Forum event last week that he did not support the principle of the policy and it was something that should be examined.
Council representatives have promised to meet the pensioners forum to discuss the concerns.