'Keeping tenants at home is key' - EDDC

PUBLISHED: 09:59 06 November 2014 | UPDATED: 09:59 06 November 2014

Archant

District bosses insist their sheltered housing tenants will be fully consulted about possible changes to the service, and that their main aim is to ensure tenants can stay in their own homes.

East Devon District Council says it has to make changes due to a cut of around half a million pounds in Devon County Council’s funding for elderly tenants.

It has unveiled a range of alternative proposals on which it is currently consulting tenants.

Councillor Jill Elson, EDDC cabinet member for sustainable homes and communities, said: “EDDC’s main aim is to ensure that those tenants who wish to continue living in their own homes are able to do so. And tenants will have a say in the type and implementation of any changes.

“It’s important to remember that the Home Safeguard alarm service and home visits by mobile support officers was never a free service. The costs were previously covered by using the funds provided by the county council.

“With that funding withdrawn, the choices are to stop the service altogether, charge a fee that covers the full cost, or find a compromise somewhere between those two extremes.

“As a result of the work we have been doing with partners – including Devon County Council – we have come up with some alternative ways of meeting the challenge posed by the reduced funding. We are now consulting with our customers to see which of the alternatives they would prefer us to adopt.

“Under the first option, the service would remain more or less the same, but tenants would be asked to pay for the scale of service they receive. For the minimum level of service, the cost would be just under £10 a week, including the £3.70 alarm charge.

“Under the second option, there would be a charge of £3.70 per week for the alarm and a separate charge for an enhanced housing management service, which would be covered by Housing Benefit for those tenants who receive this benefit.

“Tenants could, if they wish, purchase extra support at a cost of £18 per hour - including VAT, a tax that many tenants would not have to pay.

“Under this option, we would be able to offer a wider range of support, including accompanying tenants to doctors’ appointments, helping with shopping and picking up prescriptions – all activities that we currently are not able to offer.

“People tell me they want to remain living independently in their own homes for as long as possible. I want to see these services continue and that’s why we have been exploring ways to make it happen.”

Devon County Council has previously said that money intended for social care should not contribute to EDDC’s warden services, which also provide non-social housing support, saying its money is focused on those who need it the most.

EDDC’s remaining consultation events include sessions in Exmouth and Budleigh Salterton.

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