HEALTH scrutiny councillors have backed plans to continue its current system of meals on wheels for another year.
The Health and Well-being Overview and Scrutiny Committee, met on Tuesday (13 October) evening. The Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) run the present service and members heard that although numbers of meals provided were reducing, there were still over 39,000 a year delivered in Thurrock.
In 2014 the council had agreed the service should be run by the London Borough of Havering’s school catering service or those eligible could have personal budgets. However Havering pulled out of the deal and the RVS was asked to continue.
Roger Harris, the council’s Director of Adults, Health and Commissioning, told the meeting the council service guaranteed a hot meal and a visit from somebody – sometimes the only hot meal and the only personal contact customers received.
He added that Thurrock wanted to maintain this high-quality service which meant there were a limited number of options available and officers wanted another year to try and seek out a less expensive, but just as effective provider.
He said the meals cost around Â£8.50 each, but those receiving them only had to pay Â£4 – the council subsidised the difference – adding that both Southend and Essex councils were reviewing their services too.
Members suggested that faith and community groups should be approached, but while welcoming the idea, Mr Harris said while that might work for “discrete areas” of Thurrock, the council needed a borough-wide solution.
Committee chair, Cllr Graham Snell, speaking afterwards, said: “This is a very important service provided by the council, it is sometimes the only contact older people have with others.
“I’d like to thank Cllr Tunde Ojetola for bringing up the church and other faith and community groups out there who would be willing to help and perhaps the customers or their carers could have a look at seeing whether such an option is available locally to them.”