TEAMS from the Housing Service at East Devon District Council are working with partners to minimise the impact that cuts in Devon County Council (DCC) funding will have on over 1,300 elderly and vulnerable tenants.
The cuts mean a reduction of over half a million pounds in this sector in the next financial year alone.
EDDC’s main aim is to ensure that those tenants who wish to continue living in their own homes are able to do so. And tenants will have a say in the type and implementation of any changes.
DCC has advised that the Older Persons Targeted Support Agreement will come to an end this financial year and will not be extended for 2015/16.
As a result, next year East Devon’s service for elderly tenants will lose £419,000 from the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) and £104,750 from the Home Safeguard budget (General Fund), amounting to £523,750 in total.
East Devon officers have been working with DCC to respond to needs at an individual tenant level, and are continuing to follow the agreed work plan to achieve this.
All sheltered housing tenants in East Devon have been informed by letter that from April 2015 the County Council will no longer pay for the Home Safeguard alarm service, for home visits made by Mobile Support Officers or welfare calls.
In the letters, tenants are given reassurance that no changes will be made until April 2015 at the earliest.
After that date, the funding cuts will affect the way EDDC provides support services and how these services are paid for. They will not affect any other tenancy conditions.
East Devon’s Housing Team is looking at a number of possible ways to continue funding the service and will be asking for tenants’ views on these later in 2014. Ideas include:
• exploring in detail the role of Mobile Support Officers and what tenants value most from EDDC services
• the possibility of introducing a service charge to cover the Home Safeguard alarm system, visits and calls from a Mobile Support Officer
• exploring how to get the most from Housing Benefit to see if services could be covered by any tenants’ existing claims
• expanding services to reach those who live outside of sheltered housing.
Councillor Jill Elson, East Devon’s Cabinet Member for Sustainable Homes and Communities, said: “I want to see these services continue and we are exploring ways to make it happen. We value our Mobile Support Officers and the help they give our tenants in Sheltered Housing. Our tenants say they feel safer knowing someone will call.
“We are working with tenants to ensure they are receiving the benefits they are entitled to and if their needs have changed. I have asked that these discussions are honest and we will ensure that tenants are involved in finding solutions”.
A progress report will go to EDDC’s Housing Review Board in September.