Redbridge Council says it will in fact save money from the withdrawal of Meals on Wheels which have been axed across the borough from today (1 August).
The council issued a statement saying it will be saving more than £200,000 a year from the move. Its previous statement, a Freedom of Information response which said there would be no savings, was issued in error, it says. It has apologised for the mistake.
The statement reads:
We wish to clarify some points regarding the recent response to the FOI request about the Community Meal service coming to an end on 31 July.
The Council finds itself in a very difficult situation – its income from Central Government has reduced by 40 per cent. This has meant we have had to make some difficult decisions in these tough times.
One such decision was to remove the subsidy for the Community Meal service over a two year period, resulting in an annual saving of £207K from April 2018/19. Our hope was that this service would become self-sustaining without the subsidy. However it became clear earlier this year that this was not viable.
We looked at many different ways to continue the service, but none were financially possible. This led us to the difficult decision to close the service and support residents in other ways.
Up to the end of July 2017, 197 people were using the service and we are working closely with them to ensure they are able to access other suitable services and support. As with any resident, if someone has an eligible care need the costs will be met through the relevant care budget.
We know that this may be an unsettling time for some users and families; but we will be providing as much support as necessary to make the transition to alternative options as smooth as possible.
Redbridge Council is scrapping Meals on Wheels from Tuesday but we can reveal that it won’t be saving any money by doing so – even though rising costs were the justification for the decision. A Freedom of Information application has revealed no money will be saved, because the costs were covered by the people who received the meals.
Wansteadium reader Barry, whose mother has been receiving meals, applied for the information and received the following statement:
We looked at many different ways to continue the service but the decision was taken that we would no longer be able to afford to provide the community meals service.
So Redbridge could do with answering some questions, in particular:
How many residents were receiving Meals on Wheels up until the end of July 2017? What was the result of the individual assessments which Redbridge promised, and what alternative provision is being made for those residents?
What is the cost of any alternative provision?
At what point was it known that Redbridge would not actually be saving any money by stopping the scheme?
Now that it is known that no money will be saved by scrapping Meals on Wheels will Redbridge reconsider its decision?
If anyone in the council is reading and wants to respond, we will print the answers in full. Just email us at email@example.com
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Redbridge Council is pulling the plug on its meals on wheels service from next week – but has offered elderly residents advice on how to use online supermarkets instead.
The service will end on 31 July following increasing costs and a decline in demand. The council decided in January it could no longer afford to run the service.
Instead it has set out a range of alternatives, including private meal services, online supermarkets, and lunch clubs including the Age UK service at the Corner House.
One furious Wansteadium reader, whose mother will now no longer receive meals, wrote:
“Meals on Wheels supplies far more than a nutritious meal; the daily visit from the cheery Meals on Wheels delivery folk is often the only human contact many of our elderly folk get. Meals on Wheels not only fights malnutrition but loneliness as well, boosting mental wellbeing alongside physical health. People who would otherwise live in care homes can continue to lead independent lives in their own homes, incidentally saving money for the taxpayer. Damaging the physical and mental well being of our elderly folk puts more pressure on our hospitals and NHS staff, negating any savings Redbridge Council may claim they are making. Maintaining good nutrition and the human contact that comes with this, is vital when ensuring that our elderly are able to live independently in good health for as long as possible. Cutting this service puts vulnerable, elderly members of the community at risk and will also end up costing the country far more money.
Redbridge did not respond to our requests for comment, but did tell the reader that an assessment of each user was taking place. Its press release says:
Where the assessment identifies that the needs of the person using the service have increased, arrangements will be made to ensure that support is in place to provide the help they need to source, prepare and eat a meal ensuring their nutritional needs are met on a daily basis. This may require a package of care to be put in place.
It’s not completely clear what this might involve.
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