Elderly and vulnerable will suffer, says Northants charity facing funding cut

File picture
File picture

Northamptonshire’s frail and elderly are at risk of being left ‘unsupported and their needs escalating’ says an award-winning home repair charity whose county council funding will stop at the end of the month.

Care & Repair’s services helped improve the lives of thousands of elderly and vulnerable people in Northants last year but now it is having its annual £57,000 grant reduced to zero.

For more than 30 years years the organisation has provided a trustworthy and low-cost service to those who need home repairs to keep them safe.

It also helps prevent the elderly falling victim to rogue builders.

Care & Repair’s service director Gillian Shadbolt said: “Loss of this funding will directly impact on those most vulnerable and in need, many of whom are on low incomes, as it will affect our ability to offer small essential works at modest rates.

“These people will be at risk of being left unsupported and ultimately their needs escalating, increasing the likelihood of home accidents including falls, hospitalisation or the need for 24-hour care and thus their ability to remain independent in their own home.

“Our client group is particularly vulnerable to unscrupulous builders and scams and finding trustworthy traders who will carry out small works is a source of anxiety for them.  

“Easy access to reliable help makes a significant contribution to enabling older and vulnerable people to remain living in their own homes – the preferred housing option of the majority.

“We are also concerned that the council may not have assessed the wider impact of the services we offer and wonder if they have taken account of the impact of the loss of our services on other statutory and health-related organisations.”

She added: “We will continue to seek charitable funds to offer funded and subsidised services wherever possible for those most vulnerable and in need, but this is always subject to availability and should not be seen by or used by statutory bodies as a substitute for them meeting their obligations.”

The contract was previously paid for through the council’s Public Health grant.

During 2017/2018, the organisation supported more than 2,000 county residents and carried out works in the home for more than 1,200 vulnerable householders.

In 2017 Care & Repair won the Northamptonshire Community Foundation ‘Trailblazer’ Award in recognition of its services to support vulnerable householders.

The agency works with a large range of organisations across the county including councils, social housing providers, NHS bodies, the Police and Community Safety Partnerships,

It has its own team of DBS checked technicians who carry out the majority of the smaller works.

Leader of the labour opposition at NCC Cllr Bob Scott said: “This is a consequence of the Tory maladministration and is another area where the vulnerable will be most affected.”

The council is expected to outline further cuts next month (October) as it attempts to save £60m by next year.

The  failing council is in the process of being abolished and is likely to be replaced by a unitary system in May 2020.

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said: “The council is facing a well-documented challenge as it tries to tackle a significant budget deficit and deliver in-year savings of over £70m.

 “As part of a review into grant spending earlier this year, Public Health England and auditors concluded that services providing Information, Advice and Guidance and Home improvements were non-compliant with grant funding guidelines and would normally be provided either through local government funding or adult social care.

“As such NCC has decided that it can no longer contribute to funding these services through the social wellbeing services contract.”