Fears for elderly people after £7m cuts by Hampshire County Council

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MILLIONS of pounds worth of cuts to services for the elderly in Hampshire have been labelled ‘appalling’.

As part of £7.6m cutbacks agreed by the county council, handyman services for sheltered housing and frail pensioners living in their own home will be phased out in a cost-cutting plan.

The elderly are also being affected by cuts to alarms, which signal if they have fallen over and are stranded on the floor.

These will no longer be free except to those who are deemed to need them the most – to everyone else they will cost between 50p and £5 a week.

The leader of the Labour party on Gosport Borough Council, Councillor Dennis Wright said the cuts are too big.

He said: ‘I am absolutely appalled by the cuts particularly because it affects the elderly.

‘A lot of care homes are already losing their wardens and the alarm systems aren’t going to be free any more for some people. It is causing a lot of concern to people in Gosport.’

He added: ‘I know all local government is facing budget cuts forced by central government but these cuts are just too big.’

The county council says the cuts have ensured people with the highest needs still get the help they require.

Meeting chairwoman Cllr Liz Fairhurst said: ‘It is always difficult to make changes and it is never easy to make cuts. But we have a duty of care for both the frail and the vulnerable.

‘We have got to ensure that we have the services to support those who need it most.

‘But we will be monitoring the situation to make sure that we can plug any gaps that might occur. We are still spending £17m on our adult services.’

As part of the changes, some schemes currently given council money will be given an extension.

But the young people support at Two Saints, in Fareham and Gosport, which helps the homeless is being cut completely.

This will affect 16 to 25-year-olds, although its help for those who are older and single has been given an extension.

As part of changes, the responsibility for many services will be moved from the adult department to either mental health or children’s services.

This includes the Southern Health Foundation, in Havant, which specialises in mental health and learning disability.

The You Trust, in Fareham and Gosport, which offers a safe place to live to people aged 16 to 25 who are struggling with issues such as substance misuse, will now be funded by children’s services.