Wandsworth ends Meals on Wheels – and pays Town Hall boss £254,000

Guest post by the GMB union

A delegation of GMB members has called on the General Purposes Committee of Wandsworth Council this evening not to go ahead with the proposal to end the daily delivery of hot meals on wheels service for elderly, disabled and frail residents from 1st April 2013.

If the proposals go ahead residents will have to make their own arrangements to get a daily hot meal.

The GMB delegation, of council staff in meals on wheels, will tell councillors that of the people who will no longer get a hot meal delivered 3 are blind and can’t open door or a meal,  2 are partially sighted, 24 are mentally ill and not aware of time or days, 4 are mentally disabled, 5 have Alzheimer’s, 13 suffer from dementia , 2 are profoundly deaf, 8 have mental health problem undefined, 17 are physically disabled and need assistance to open meal, 11 who are wheelchair bound unable to open door 4 have a drink related disability and 1 has a drink and drugs related disability.

The GMB delegation will make clear that all the residents they deliver meals on wheels to are disabled. 81% have either a physical or sensory disability or are frail. 13% suffer from mental health problems and 3% are other vulnerable people and supported persons. The majority are older residents: 44% are aged over 85 and 27% are aged 75 -84.

Currently the meals on wheels service delivers one hot meal a day to residents from a standard menu prepared according to good dietary principles and there is choice of meals to meet cultural and dietary needs.

Residents pay for the cost of the meal, but the cost of delivery is subject to the Council’s charging policy for social care. Distribution starts at 11am each day.

It is proposed that these elderly and disabled residents purchase prepared foods from supermarkets or get a frozen meal delivered to be re heated in a microwave which the council will provide. Where they are unable to heat up the food themselves a care worker, volunteer or unpaid carer could be identified to support them.

In July the council said it was ending funding for school crossing patrol staff. Last month Wandsworth Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services, Councillor Kathy Tracey, said pedestrian traffic lights in the borough should replace the need for lollipop staff and “if parents really feel it’s dangerous for their children to cross the road it’s not that difficult to raise the funds to pay for a lollipop person.”

Paul Grafton GMB Regional Officer said “This Tory flagship council continues along the road of cutting practical delivery of the welfare state for vulnerable elderly and disabled residents.

In this latest round of cuts the council is targeting current and future elderly, disabled and frail residents to save money. As well as ending daily hot meals delivery they are also cutting transport to get elderly and other vulnerable adults to Day Care Centre.

Look at the residents the Tories are abandoning. 3 are blind and can’t open door or a meal, 2 are partially sighted, 24 are mentally ill and not aware of time or days, 4 are mentally disabled, 5 have Alzheimer’s, 13 suffer from dementia, 2 are profoundly deaf, 8 have mental health problem undefined, 17 are physically disabled and need assistance to open meal, 11 who are wheelchair bound unable to open door 4 have a drink related disability and 1 has a drink and drugs related disability.

That the Tories can dress up this cut as “a proposal to introduce a more personalised approach” is the ultimate Orwellian use of language.

Wandsworth home help service is also stretched as home help staffs are not paid for travel time between homes. So someone paid to provide 8 hours of care has to work far longer than that to get around to all homes on the rosters. This is leading to corners being cut and the services to vulnerable elderly being a lot less than they need.

To cut front line services for the young and the old is a political choice as Wandsworth council has just reported an under spend of £13m for 2011/12 and boasts of the lowest council tax in England.

Wandsworth Tories did not target the well-heeled when it came to cuts. The remuneration package of Mr D P Martin, Chief Executive, was £254,880 while 5 people, including Chief Executive, had total remuneration including pension contributions of over £200,000 each. The Leader of the Council got £51,425.99.”

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