Council official reacts to Lympstone councillors' health alarm fears

A SENIOR council officer has defended a decision to charge elderly and frail tenants for a lifeline health alarm. Vulnerable tenants who previously received a personal health alarm, called Home Safeguard, free of charge, must now pay in the region of �165

A SENIOR council officer has defended a decision to charge elderly and frail tenants for a lifeline health alarm.

Vulnerable tenants who previously received a personal health alarm, called Home Safeguard, free of charge, must now pay in the region of �165 - �195 for the East Devon District Council service.

Responding to a letter expressing concerns over the plans sent by Lympstone Parish Council, who said they were 'shocked by the news', John Golding, head of housing and social inclusion at EDDC, defended the move.

Mr Goulding said: "This was a difficult decision for members to make, but was made to preserve and protect the service for our vulnerable clients.


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"It has been heavily subsidised by the council tax payer - a situation that cannot be sustained in the long term if Home Safeguard is to continue to provide a professional, reliable and cost effective service."

The council system enables people to get round-the-clock help by pressing a personal alarm which can be easily worn around the neck, on a wristrap, or clipped to clothing.

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The issue was discussed at a Lympstone Parish Council meeting earlier this month - with the chairman of the council, Rob Longhurst, branding the decision as 'obscene.'

He said it was wrong to penalise the elderly - a feeling echoed by fellow councillors - and, before the issue was discussed at the meeting, the parish was not aware of the move.

Clerk to Lympstone Parish Council, Tony Le Riche, wrote a letter to Mr Goulding expressing concerns over the matter - which he branded 'shocking news.'

He said: "The parish council has expressed its deep concern at the impact of the proposal to charge, the level of the charge and the way in which this has been communicated to clients.

"The introduction of such a charge to vulnerable people in our communities must be regarded as a simply awful way of EDDC attempting to dig itself out of a financial hole.

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