Have your say on cuts to Public Services this time on the future of the Community Meals Service
Have your say on the future of the Community Meals Service
A public consultation about the future of the Community Meals Service is now underway – after Cabinet agreed to consult on a preferred option to retain the service with a renewed delivery model.
Cabinet Members considered a report which put forward four options for the service, known as Meals on Wheels, at their meeting on November 29. The options were brought forward in the face of rising inflationary food and energy costs and the financial pressures that all councils are facing.
The preferred option would reorganise the internal service and offer users the choice between a hot or frozen meal to be delivered. Staff would continue their welfare checks to users. Charges would increase by 50p per meal to a total of £4.55, which remains very competitive in comparison with neighbouring councils who provide a similar service, and private providers.
The revised service put forward by the preferred option would operate at a total cost of £6.28 per meal, with each meal benefitting from a Council subsidy of £1.73. This option would deliver an annual saving of £427,000.
Following Cabinet’s decision, a public consultation into the preferred option started on Monday, December 5, and will end on Monday, January 9 (2023).
Everyone is welcome to take part and have their say. A letter, survey and list of Frequently Asked Questions will be sent to all users, to inform them of the consultation and make it easier for them to take part. Members of staff will be on hand to assist those who need help filling in the survey. Past users will also be contacted with a letter and a paper copy of the survey.
Members of the public can also take part by accessing information on the Council’s website, and filling in an online version of the survey. All of the consultation material can be found at www.rctcbc.gov.uk/consultations.
Councillor said “Cabinet has considered four possible options for the future of the Community Meals Service, and Members have chosen to consult on a preferred option thought to be the most sustainable way forward. It would retain a worthwhile service that is still very competitive in price, maintain invaluable social contact for users, and deliver a significant annual saving of £427,000.
“The proposals were brought forward in response to the public spending challenges faced to set a legally balanced budget for next year, in light of increased service demand, rising costs of food and energy, and pressures across the Council. Cabinet has identified the preferred option as a sensible approach to retain the Community Meals Service here in Rhondda Cynon Taf – a service which not all Local Authorities run. We do not underestimate how important the service is, with the majority of users more than 70 years old.
“The Council has now started a public consultation process which will run over the next four weeks until January 9. This presents an opportunity for users past and present, along with the wider public, to have their say on the proposal. We will be writing to all current users, and members of staff will offer assistance where needed to find out more and fill in the survey.
“The comprehensive process will also engage with carers, providers and other stakeholders – and the feedback received will be considered by Cabinet Members in their final decision making on this matter in the New Year.”
The Community Meals Service delivers subsidised meals to adults in their homes, with 86% of users more than 70 years old. Home deliveries have declined since the pandemic due to many factors – including an increased choice of third sector providers and food delivery services, and free transport to supermarkets. Deliveries numbers have fallen from 145,694 in 2020/21 to a projected total of 120,047 this year.