Changes to Wandsworth meals on wheels service finalised
4:50pm Thursday 6th December 2012 in News
Councillors last night finalised changes to the meals on wheels food service which is set to save Wandsworth Council £150,000.
The local authority say the amendments to the service, ratified at last night's full council meeting, will give people extra choice about when they eat, what they eat and who supplies it.
Opponents to the move point out more than 100 of the borough's most vulnerable people will be denied their daily hot meal.
The move will also see 12 redundancies.
This changes come on the back of the service's take up being halved over the past four years.
The decline is attributed to the greater choices now available from family and friends, community organisations, restaurants and cafes, supermarkets and other food retailers who offer delivery services, often at a lower cost.
A single pre-cooked meal delivery costs a total of £8.82, and although the council subsidises part of the cost, the remaining £4.75 must be met by the user themselves.
This charge has increased in recent years because the overhead costs are having to be met by dwindling numbers of users.
Councillor Jim Maddan, adult social services spokesman, said: "Those who really rely on a hot food service can continue to have it with their carer cooking the food for them as part of their care plan.
"These changes recognise that the current hot food delivery service is poor value for money for the taxpayer and is not giving people the choice and freedom that they deserve.
"We believe that people should choose what is right for them, not have someone else decide."
Tooting MP Sadiq Khan is outraged by the changes. He said: "The priority behind this is saving money and not the vulnerable people who rely on the service.
"The Council says this will give users more choice, but they are taking away the right to choose a hot meal.
"In addition to letting down the elderly, 12 people will now be made redundant. Yet more people to lose out to the devastating cuts of a heartless council."
Paul Grafton GMB Regional Officer, said "In this latest round of cuts the council is targeting current and future elderly, disabled and frail residents to save money.
"Look at the residents they are abandoning. Three are blind and can’t open a door or a meal, two are partially-sighted and 24 are mentally ill."
Last month the Wandsworth Guardian reported that meals on wheels staff set to lose their jobs were never consulted and discovered they faced redundancy through a news release issued by the council.
A staff member, who wish to remain anonymous, said: "We feel it is going to be a shock to the elderly people and going to kill some of them.
"The council don’t care, all they care about is keeping the low poll tax. We were shocked."