Flagship TV news show to highlight care fears in Northampton

Alleged cuts in services for sheltered housing residents in Northampton will be exposed in a BBC1 documentary next week, campaigners have claimed.

Elderly people who marched through the town last month to complain about changes to the way wardens for sheltered housing complexes are funded have been filmed for the flagship BBC current affairs programme Panorama, which will be aired on Monday.

They claim the number of dedicated wardens in the town has fallen by more than half since responsibility for funding the wardens was given to the Supporting People fund and taken away from borough and district councils.

Northampton Borough Council member Tony Clarke (Ind, Castle), who spoke at the rally in support of the elderly protesters, said: "The council will deny this, but there have been serious cutbacks in the number of dedicated wardens.

"Residents are having to care for each other now, instead of getting the support they need from the wardens, and they have no freedom at all because they are having to schedule their lives around when the warden might be available.

"Instead of being able to sit down with wardens and have a cup of tea and a chat, residents are being admitted to hospital and residential care unnecessarily.

"If the warden was on hand, they would be able to tell whether that person needed to be admitted or whether they just needed someone to talk to."

Sally Beardsworth (Lib Dem, Kingsthorpe), the borough council's cabinet member for housing, said service levels had not been reduced.

She said: "The service has not been cut, but it has been changed.

"We are trying to make sure that everyone gets the service they need, in a more universal way. I will be watching Panorama, and I just hope that it is fair and accurate, and not biased in one direction."

The programme will screen at 8.30pm.