DISABLED and vulnerable adults say their lives have been “completely devastated” by increases in what they have to pay towards their care.

Wiltshire Council changed the way it assesses people’s care contributions in a new policy introduced in August 2016.

An independent review by Healthwatch said despite “considerable positive impact on some customers”, mistakes had made the process “difficult and often distressing” for many, and a number had “lost faith” in the council.

Many had received no proper review of their circumstances for several years, which meant the increase came as a “big hit”, with “significant additional costs”.

One parent told Healthwatch: “I don’t know how we can manage now. My son has severe learning disabilities. I am using my pension to pay for care as there isn’t enough of his benefit left to pay.”

Delays of up to six weeks in sending out new bills had caused “concern, distress and resentment”, the report said.

Many severely disabled people who receive Direct Payments to arrange their own care felt “considerable anger” that their lives had been “completely devastated” by the new charges. They saw it as a return to “the bad old days”.

The report, commissioned by the council, also highlighted a “lack of information and poor communication”. Improved leaflets were much better, but proved “too little, too late” for many.

Councillor Gordon King called for an urgent review and said a public consultation on the changes had been “inadequate”.

And health select committee chairman Christine Crisp said things had “gone fairly badly wrong for quite a few people”.

Nigel Afford, chairman of learning disability charity South Wilts Mencap, said many of those affected did not understand the long-term impact of the changes.

Wiltshire Council corporate director Carolyn Godfrey said the council had worked closely with the “relatively small number” who had raised concerns.

“In the early stages we did not get this right and we want to apologise to those people affected,” she said.

Ms Godfrey said the council had learned from the “extremely helpful” review and had acted quickly to “fully implement its recommendations”.

The council was “fully committed to supporting vulnerable people,” and its assessment teams had directed nearly 400 towards a further £700,000 of benefits, she added.

Anyone still struggling is advised to contact the council.