TORIES 52% HIKE ON MEALS ON WHEELS
Despite objections from people throughout Essex, the Conservatives at County Hall are recommending a massive increase in the cost of meals on wheels. The cost of each meal per person will probably be ?3.50, up over 50% from the current charge of ?2.30 per meal.
Cllr Theresa Higgins, Liberal Democrats adult social care spokesman, said, “To insist on such an enormous increase in the cost of meals provided to the most vulnerable members of our society is totally unacceptable. As we proved in our proposed budget last month, there is money available to continue subsidizing this service to keep it accessible for the people who need it the most – I simply cannot understand why the Conservatives won’t use it. If this is the face of the new, compassionate Conservative party, I think the residents of Essex can do without it.
“We are also concerned that people will drop out of the service when they find they can’t afford it. The elderly and disabled people who rely so heavily on this service, are on fixed, and often low, incomes that don’t have the capacity to cope with heavy service increases like this one.
“Additionally, there is the social element. For many people isolated at home by age, illness or disability, a visit from a meals on wheels deliverer could be the only human face they see all day”, Cllr Higgins added.
The consultation itself has been criticized by many of the respondents. The consultation period was very short – there was only about a week for people to complete and return their views. Given the brief time period it isn’t unsurprising that under 10% of voluntary organizations and only 7 members of the public returned a completed consultation form.
Rochford is a district with a relatively high proportion of elderly people. We will look carefully to see what the 5 Tory County Councillors who represent Rochford and Rayleigh say and do on this issue – and indeed if our Conservative MPs have any comments to make on this.