Havering Council's cabinet to vote on scrapping meals on wheels service
PUBLISHED: 07:00 20 January 2016
Havering Council's cabinet will vote tonight on whether to scrap its meals on wheels service in a bid to set a balance budget for the year 2016-17.
Central government funding to Havering Council is expected to fall by £10.8million for the financial year 2016-17. This is more the authority had expected, creating a funding gap of £5.6million.
The proposal to end the meals on wheels service comes after a three months review of the scheme, carried out last year. The number of people using the service has declined by about nine per cent year on year, which has made it run at a loss.
Havering Catering Services (HCS), which operates the meals on wheels service, currently delivers hot meals to 297 residents in Havering and 86 residents in Barking and Dagenham.
Tony Bloomfield, director of communication at Tapestry – formally Age Concern, said he understood the council had to make some cuts but warned that the meals on wheels is not just about food delivery but also helps combat the “increasing issues of social isolation”.
He said: “The service meals on wheels provides gets overlooked and people who use it have complex needs. There are many other providers, which can deliver the food but they will not be providing the social contact.”
Proposals also include bringing to an end the provision of health services, including sexual health prevention, family programmes and activities to tackle children’s obesity, physical activities for adults, the stop smoking service and the closure of the chlamydia screening office and testing.
These services are non-mandated health services, commissioned by Havering Council to external organisations.
The savings made from the plans would represent approximately 30per cent of the public health grant received by the council and would be redirected to other existing services aimed at “early help and health promotion” for children and families.
If the proposals are agreed by the cabinet, they will go to a vote at a full council meeting in February and changes could be put in place in March.
Read a full report of the meeting and the budget proposals in Friday’s Recorder.