Elderly to get special rate for community meals

PENSIONERS who found themselves facing a big rise in the price of frozen meals provided by North Somerset Council have been thrown a lifeline.

PENSIONERS who found themselves facing a big rise in the price of frozen meals provided by North Somerset Council have been thrown a lifeline.

Councillors approved the provision of frozen meals by a private contractor at a meeting of the Executive last month as part of numerous 'cost savings' outlined by Cllr Nigel Ashton.

He said the measures are necessary to plug a £17million hole in Government funding over the next two years.

However, the council has negotiated a 'special rate' with frozen food supplier Wiltshire Farm Foods that means most elderly people who receive them will now not face an increase in the cost of meals from £2.70 to £3.51.


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Executive member for community services Cllr Ian Peddlesden said: "Most service users will not experience a price rise. For those that do - possibly infrequent users and the seven day users - there will be a slight increase from £18.90 a week to £20 a week."

A council spokesman said there are 50 seven day users and a small number of infrequent users.

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Cllr Peddelesden added: "All service users will benefit from a greater choice of meals and will also have the opportunity to select a premium meal and dessert at a discounted £3.10 rate. These prices will be held until February 2009.

"Wiltshire Farm Foods has also reassured us that if its staff do not get an answer when delivering a meal, they will alert social services if there is no next of kin to contact."

The transfer of existing meals to the private sector has already taken place and the increased charges by 10 per cent from £2.60 to £2.85 for hot meals will take effect from November 30.

Further budget announcements are expected before Christmas and are likely to include details of redundancies.

The savings from the frozen meal proposals are estimated at about £10,000 in 2007/8 and £25,000 in a full year.

Increasing the cost of hot meals by 10 per cent will generate £30,000 in additional income for the council this year and £75,000 annually thereafter, dependent on the continued uptake of the service.

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