MEMBERS of Thurrock Council’s Health and Wellbeing overview and scrutiny committee have been told proposed changes to the borough’s meals on wheels service would not only guarantee people “would have a hot meal of the same quality at no extra cost”, but that the council would save £2.70 a meal.
The meeting, on Tuesday (29 July) was told the council had to make savings, and speaking afterwards, Cllr Barbara Rice, cabinet member for health and social care, said: “Currently the meals cost £8, half paid by the user and half by the council.
“We have negotiated with the organisation which provides meals for many of our schools, Brakes Brothers Catering Consortium which we share with Havering and Barking and Dagenham – an organisation which has won many prizes for its service – so we can offer users meals for £4 and we pay a further £1.30.
“That saves £2.70 per meal and we provide 33,000 meals a year guaranteeing service users a hot meal of the same quality at no extra cost.”
She added: “But we will also be offering the service users the chance to buy in their own service if they want to do so, and we’ll support them with a direct payment; so there’ll be choice as well as a saving.
“I’m sure some people will find this new service better than the old one – whether they choose their own provider or use ours – but I do understand others will not appreciate the change.
“That is why the support and advice must be on hand and in good time, and that is why cabinet will be looking at this in early September so we have six months or more to help people come to terms with the changes we’re having to make.”