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Meals on Wheels (library photo)

Meals on Wheels cut: mystery deepens

WHY HAS Tower Hamlets Executive Mayor John Biggs ordered the closure of the Council Meals on Wheels Service, which provides meals to vulnerable adults?

Service users and community activists have been raising concerns about what will happen when the service ends. One local resident told the press that her relative had been give a list of local shops he could go to – hardly practical or realistic.

The Council does not seem to have issued a press release announcing the change in the service. Accordingly, East London News asked the Council if Executive Mayor John Biggs would issue a press statement. This is what he had to say.

“Mayor John Biggs said:
“Over the past few years the number of people using our meals on wheels service has more than halved from 350 in 2015 to only 160 this year. As a result, and in the face of significant budget challenges, we are working with each of the current users to agree a personalised plan to meet their needs. Where users are in need of support including a meal, that can happen in a number of ways from meals being directly provided, to more social lunch clubs or increased support in the home to make a meal.
“I understand there will be nervousness about changes to the support we offer but we are committed to providing the best service possible for residents who need this support.”

The statement raises more questions than it answers – not least of which is what is driving the closure of the service?
Is it being done to save money (“in the face of significant budget challenges”, as John Biggs describes them)?
Or is the service being closed down because all service users can get a better service by alternative means? In which case, if the better service is found to cost more than the Meals on Wheels service, will additional funds be found to meet the extra cost?

John Biggs says that the Council is working with service users to “agree a personalised plan to meet their needs”.
Was the work underway before the decision to close the service was taken? Was it the work to find more personalised services what made the Council realise that feeding vulnerable people was best done without a Meals on Wheels Service?
Or was the decision to close the service taken first, with the work to provide personal services being conducted as a way of coping in the absence of a service. If that is the case, do the staff drawing up the personalised plan have a (reduced) financial target to meet?

Community activists are waiting for Cllr Amina Ali to return to her Cabinet duties next week in the hope that some substantive answers will be forthcoming over what the Council is up to.

Read more about this story:
Biggs cuts Meals on Wheels for vulnerable adults

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Brave councillors tell Biggs: think again on housing
Biggs consults on clobbering kids’ services (again)

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