ELDERLY residents at sheltered housing projects in Basingstoke will lose their community alarm systems after Hampshire County Council decided to cut its funding.
As reported by The Gazette, residents at John Eddie Court, in South Ham, raised concerns after Hampshire County Council proposed to cut funding for alarm systems at sheltered housing projects under the Supporting People programme.
And last Wednesday, their fears were realised when Councillor Liz Fairhurst, executive member for adult social care and public health, gave the go-ahead to £7.66million of cuts to the programme, which commissions housing and community support services to allow vulnerable, such as the elderly and homeless, to live independently for longer. As part of the cuts, funding for the community alarm system service will stop from September.
People who currently receive the service will be assessed to see if they are eligible to receive support through a Telecare system, and residents who do not meet the criteria will be offered a self-funded option. In addition, a gardening and handyman service will end next March.
However, contracts for housing projects for homeless people in the borough are to be extended until 2015, but will be subject to a further review.
The projects include the Joshua Tree Centre, in Worting Road, and Sandringham Court, in Paddock Road, South Ham.
Cllr Fairhurst said: “We know how much people value these services and it’s always difficult to make changes to provision, but we are facing significant budget pressures which mean we can no longer sustain the current level of funding.
“We will ensure that concerns raised by service users and providers are addressed through the development of the alternative services to be commissioned, and we will continue to engage with them to help us shape these new services.”
Bosses at Sovereign Housing Association, which owns John Eddie Court, said they were “disappointed” with the decision, but they will now explore their “short and longer-term options and develop a new strategy” to help people affected by the cuts.
Councillor Terri Reid, cabinet member for housing and regeneration at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, added: “I remain concerned at the effect of this uncertainty on much-needed services in our borough.
“We will continue to work with providers, partners, service users and other local authorities to ensure that we all fully understand the impact of any further cuts, and to ensure the best possible case is made for local services for our residents.
“We will also work with providers to find ways of mitigating any cuts to funding by Hampshire County Council.”