Council to cut ‘meals on wheels’

Angus Council has been criticised as a result of cuts to be made the community meals service with the number of hot meals to be slashed.

The local authority is set to halve the hot meals delivered to residents who use its ‘meals on wheels’ service in a bid to save money.

The soon to be reduced service will not require as many man hours to deliver the goods which could lead to job losses or delivery drivers having to be re-deployed within the authority’s work force.

But the authority is cutting the service to the delivery of one meal during the day and the other meal will be substituted with a sandwich for the resident to have for dinner.

It is estimated that the cuts will save £400,000 a year but this could result in changes to delivery driver jobs due to a reduction in hours.

One Arbroath lady, who declined to be named said: “I have had the ‘meals on wheels’ service for several years now and it is a godsend.

“I find it very difficult to get about without my zimmer, and would have problems preparing hot food. I have always found the meals appetizing and do not wish to have just a sandwich for one meal.”

Another concerned resident said: “Here we go again with Angus Council cuts. First we had the children’s play park proposed reductions, then the museum closing on Mondays. Now we learn that there is to be one community meals delivery each day, instead of the usual two.”

The proposals are for the usual midday delivery of a hot meal, but with a sandwich added for tea.

A council spokesperson stated: “Angus Council delivers approximately 3,500 hot meals to the homes of around 450 residents every week. People can currently choose to have a hot meal delivered to their home at lunchtime, in the evening, or both. The net cost of providing this level of service is around £580,000 each year.

“The council will be changing the service later this year, moving to one delivery of community meals each day.

“People will have the option of having a meal at lunchtime and/or a sandwich option, delivered at the same time, for teatime. This change will save £400,000 each year.

“The council has written to everyone who receives the community meals service to give them early notice of the changes and discussions continue with service staff about the new arrangements, the details of which have still to be finalised.”

The spokesperson concluded: “The changes are based on the findings of the council’s review of the service, to determine if a more cost-effective level of service could be provided, but one that would still meet residents’ needs.

“Part of that review included a survey of Scotland’s 32 councils. That revealed that 23 councils provide eligible residents with one hot meal each day, six councils (of which Angus is one) currently deliver two hot meals a day; and three councils provide no meals service at all.”

Council David Fairweather said he did not agree with the decision when the matter came before the council’s social work committee and he still does not agree with it.

He commented: “I voiced my disagreement at the commitee meeting in no uncertain terms.

“However, I was told that in reality it was not a cut to the service, as the recipients would still be getting two meals a day, but I don’t see it like that.

“We should not be making cuts where the elderly and infirm are concerned.”