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'Old fashioned' meals on wheels service to go

PUBLISHED: 10:00 23 January 2016

On Wednesday, Havering Council's Cabinet agreed on proposals to scrap the meals on wheels service and other health services in a bid to gap a £5.6m hole in the 2016-17 budget

On Wednesday, Havering Council's Cabinet agreed on proposals to scrap the meals on wheels service and other health services in a bid to gap a £5.6m hole in the 2016-17 budget

Archant

Havering Council's cabinet agreed a recommendation on Wednesday to end the meals on wheels service, which was described as "clunky and old fashioned".

The proposals come after a three-month review of the scheme and a decline in users of about nine per cent year-on-year, meaning the service was running at a loss.

Havering Catering Services (HCS) operates the meals on wheels service and currently delivers hot meals to 297 residents in Havering and 86 residents in Barking and Dagenham.

The price of a hot meal and dessert being delivered is £5.25, but it currently costs the council £5.84 per meal. This is anticipated to create a financial loss of £116,143 for the financial year 2015-16.

The report states “the traditional meals on wheels service of delivering hot meals in vans is widely considered outdated and is not fit for purpose in a modern care environment.”

The council will recommend users choose a private company to continue to receive the service. Vulnerable residents registered with adult social services will continue to be monitored by the council.

Tony Bloomfield, director of communication at the charity Tapestry, formally Age Concern, said the service was not only about food delivery.

While he understood the council had to make cuts, he said axing it would create “increasing issues of social isolation”, which will come at a cost.

“The service meals on wheels provides get overlooked and people who use it have complex needs,” he said.

“There are many other providers, which can deliver the food but they will not be providing the social contact.”

But cabinet member for adult social services and health Cllr Wendy Brice-Thompson said: “The new staff from private providers will also be trained to do a quick assessment and call for help.”

There are 35 part-time staff members working in the service.

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