Cuts lead to charge for lifeline service

By Harriet Ernstsons Friday 04 April 2014 Updated: 04/04 09:31

VULNERABLE people are set to be charged or lose out on a service enabling them to call for urgent help.

A total of 782 people across Redditch borough are believed to have been affected by the withdrawal of Supporting People funding from Worcestershire County Council which came into effect on Monday (March 31).

It means their call alarm connections which cost £127,000 per year will no longer be funded.

Officers from Redditch Borough Council, which operates the lifeline service, are writing to every resident affected to ask them if they wish to pay for the service, at a cost of £3.50 per week in line with what customers who have not previously received funding pay.

Those in a category A scheme who have shown a specific requirement for sheltered housing will be deemed to need the lifeline service and will be called to tell them about the new changes and charges, while those in categories B, C, D or general let accommodation will be contacted to find out if they want to start paying for the service.

Anyone who has a critical or substantial need may still be able to access funding through the county council to spend on services while those who 'fear financial hardship' can be referred into the borough's support service for a benefit review.

It is expected a total of £100,000 will be generated by those who decide to fund the service themselves, with a further announcement about equipment funding expected later in the year.

But Redditch GP Dr Gilly Cooper has expressed concern if people chose not to pay for the service they would call 999 instead.

"That just moves the cost to something that is far more expensive so instead of the council paying for it the ambulance service has to pay more," she said.

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