OAP's battle over safety alarm bill

PUBLISHED: 06:30 18 July 2016

Archant

A pensioner gran living in sheltered accommodation is calling time on compulsory council home safety alarm charges.

The 78-year-old, who does not want to be identified, is campaigning against district council sheltered accommodation tenants being forced to pay up to £30 a month for unwanted home alarm and safety systems, writes Becca Gliddon.

The pensioner’s daughter said OAPs were being ‘bullied’ into paying for an unwelcome medical and support system.

She said the family had been fighting the council for a year to abolish the charge and compulsory service; her mum says she had been originally told the service was free.

The family’s fight echoes a Budleigh Salterton pensioner’s plea, recently shot down by East Devon District Council (EDDC), when the 91-year-old asked to source a cheaper, private option.

The Budleigh woman said the £676 annual council charge would force her to choose the unwanted alarm over heating her home.

The Exmouth grandmother says other sheltered accommodation tenants want the Home Safeguard Services scheme scrapped, but are too afraid to speak out for fear of reprisals by the council.

So she is fighting to choose her own home safety and alarm service.

She claims cheaper options are available.

EDDC said the alarm service and support system was an ‘integral part’ of its sheltered housing offer. It said it was ‘determined’ to keep it running.

The council said it had a hardship fund for people unable to pay, warned it would ‘seek possession’ as a ‘last resort’ for non-payment and would discuss other options available with tenants who thought the service unnecessary – including ‘helping tenants find more suitable accommodation’, adding sheltered housing was for ‘residents who are in need of our support services’.

The Exmouth pensioner, who has a personal SOS phone system linked to her daughter in Exmouth, said: “It should be possible to for me to be given the opportunity to supply my own service and protection. I feel I could do it at a fraction of the cost.”

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