'Lifeline' for vulnerable residents in Dewsbury and Heckmondwike could be axed by Kirklees Council

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A “lifeline” for vulnerable people living at council-owned housing schemes in Dewsbury and Heckmondwike could be axed.

The council’s three Extra Care housing schemes are at Meadow Green at Heckmondwike, Woodland Court at Dewsbury and Sandy Mount at Crosland Moor.

Each provides over 40 rented flats, generally for the over 50s with care and/or support needs, designed to help people maintain their independence.

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Each scheme provides communal facilities including a tenant lounge and activity and exercise rooms, along with a commercial-quality catering kitchen and dining room facility.

Sandy Mount at Crosland Moor is one of the housing schemes where the service at risk runsSandy Mount at Crosland Moor is one of the housing schemes where the service at risk runs
Sandy Mount at Crosland Moor is one of the housing schemes where the service at risk runs

A catering service – Bistro Service - operates at each of the three sites, providing breakfast and hot lunches every day of the year, and a means to socialise.

This is for use by tenants within the schemes with no current service charge, as well as by staff and the public.

But Kirklees Council says it is “unable to continue putting money towards the service”.

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The council says that around one third of people living in the scheme use the Bistro Service and that the average daily income across all three schemes is £300.

“After taking into account the average daily income, the cost of running the service for one year is estimated to be £194,000”, says the council.

Residents have been asked about two options for the future of the service. One would see the service scrapped altogether.

A member of the public who wished to remain anonymous described the catering service as a “lifeline” for many.

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Fears have been raised that people will be left struggling to access a daily hot meal and social interaction if it is no longer provided.

The second option would see the introduction of a service charge for tenants to cover the full costs of the Bistro Service. This would be payable regardless of whether the tenant used the service, and residents would also have to pay for their meals, albeit at a reduced rate.

The consultation ended in November, with the vast majority of respondents not in favour of either option.

Comments urged the local authority to consider catering provision from a third party and the council’s website states that this is being looked into.

A final decision is expected to be made in the coming months.

Kirklees Council was approached for comment.