Some meals on wheels subsidies could be kept for vulnerable East Sussex customers

Meals on Wheels service.C119910-2 ENGPPP00120111230152959
Meals on Wheels service.C119910-2 ENGPPP00120111230152959

Some meals on wheels customers in East Sussex may continue to be eligible for a subsidy as part of revised plans now being considered.

East Sussex County Council had consulted on proposals to scrap the subsidy completely and change the way working age adults are supported as it looked to make £1million of savings from adult social care.

However after feedback received from organisations and the public, the authority is now looking to keep a subsidy, but only for the most vulnerable who cannot afford to pay for the service themselves.

Proposals are due to be discussed at a lead member for adult social care and health meeting next Tuesday (September 24).

The meals in the community subsidy is currently £4.10 per person towards the full cost of each meal, which ranges from £4 to £8.

It is estimated around 100 to 150 of the 679 people currently receiving a subsidy could be eligible to continue to receive it.

Keith Hinkley, East Sussex County Council’s director of adult social care, said: “We have had to make £130 million savings this decade, and continuing financial pressures mean difficult decisions have to be made.

“However, we have taken into account people’s concerns and the proposal for meals in the community is a sensible approach which means the most vulnerable will continue to receive the subsidy, while still allowing us to make savings.

“We have a higher than average proportion of working adults in nursing or residential care and the proposed changes would focus on more effective community-based alternatives, while delivering support that is fair and meets people’s needs.

“We know people are worried about the proposals, but everyone affected will have an individual review before any changes to their support are suggested, and as at present they will have the right to appeal if they don’t agree with what’s proposed.”

According to an officers’ report due to be discussed next week, subsidies would continue to be available ‘where the provision of a subsidised meal service is the most cost-effective intervention, supports independence and the withdrawal would result in more expensive service provision elsewhere’.

Discussions have also taken place with the current providers Presto (formerly Licence to Freeze), Mother Theresa’s Meals, Oakhouse Foods and Wiltshire Farm Foods.

They have indicated that the changes will allow their services to continue and they will consider offering deals over a transitionary period to help reduce the impact of the change.

Two lunch clubs with a total of 28 clients in the county currently also receive the subsidy.

The current proposal would see it withdrawn, with support provided to seek alternative funding to continue if this is required.

Individuals who attend the clubs will be given advice and offered assessments if appropriate.