1:02pm Monday 16th December 2013 in Letters
I NOTE that Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council plans to increase costs of its meals-on-wheels service to a commercial rate. Up to now the meals have been subsidised, but according to the powers that be this is no longer an option.
As a user of the service myself, I am pleased at least that the original decision, arbitrarily to abolish meals-on-wheels altogether, has now been reconsidered. However, this said, I have grave doubts as to what the effects of an increase will be.
As things stand, under the subsidy set to end in April 2014, a meal and dessert costs £2.40 per day, making an overall cost of £16.80 for seven days. If the commercial rate of £3.90 per day is implemented, that will make a staggering £27.30.
When it is considered that the basic old-age pension at its highest is set (according to the British Government website) at £110.15 this is a considerable chunk out of elderly people’s weekly incomes, even taking into account extras against a rising cost of living.
I have little doubt that a large number of our people will be feeling worried as the change approaches – and some may not even be aware that the change is in the offing.
Now, we all know that Blaenau Gwent, together with other New Labour run councils are blaming Conservative cuts for their having to cut public services, but in this instance a solution may be suggested that will make things a little better.
In view of the fact that Blaenau Gwent councillors receive a generous £13K basic payment for their part-time services, may I humbly suggest that our elected representatives should set up an emergency charitable fund to which they could then donate 20 per cent of their allowances, rising to 40 per cent for executive members who receive considerably higher payments?
That would go a very long way towards restoring public faith in a body of people for whom many constituents have come to see no particular use, as well as removing the need to cut the meals-on-wheels subsidy that so assists some of our most vulnerable people.
Glanmor Bowen-Knight Chairman, Plaid Cymru Blaenau Gwent Tredegar
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