The minutes of the meeting of the Older Persons Partnership held on 6 March 2013 were taken as read and approved as a correct record.
ILOP Handyperson Scheme
A copy of the ILOP Handy Person Scheme - Issues and Proposed Alternative Arrangements - was circulated. Concerns had been raised by the Senior Citizens Forum at the last meeting on 6 March 2013 in relation to proposed changes to the operation of the handypersons scheme operated by the Royal Voluntary Service (formerly WRVS). A new charging mechanism for the scheme had been proposed as £15.00 for the first hour (or part thereof) and £10.00 for each subsequent hour. The concerns were that this would make the service unaffordable to many of the boroughs most deprived and disadvantaged older people.
Two elements of the ILOP service transferred from the Council to the Voluntary Service 3 years ago. The good neighbour scheme and the handyperson scheme. The handyperson scheme current charges were £6.00 per half hour (or part thereof) and £10 per hour plus cost of materials for any help provided. The service was operating at a loss. Income generated did not even meet direct costs (employee vehicles and equipment). In 2012/13 an income of £11,000 was generated that meant the Royal Voluntary Service had subsidised each customer by £10.91. To date the Royal Voluntary Service had absorbed these costs but this could be no longer maintained.
Based on the losses it was accepted that the Royal Voluntary Service could no longer sustain these and discussions had taken place to design an alternative solution. Social Care, via its Ayresome Industries facility, would take over a contract for a provision of services to fit various aids and adaptations. Ayresome Industries would be able to introduce a low-level handyperson scheme in addition to the current service with the current contract price. This scheme would be accessible to any older person in receipt of pension credit guarantee. The service would be subsidised but a small membership or hourly charge may apply.
It had been identified that a proportion of current users of the Royal Voluntary Service might be in receipt of benefits and could therefore purchase services via a Direct Payment from social care, where there was an identified need for assistance.
It was proposed that other service providers were being considered and people would be able to access a low cost service of their choice through Direct Payments. The Chair enquired as to whether the Council could offer a free service. It was clarified that there would be a minimum cost.
A representative stated that senior citizens were not happy with the increase and that it was too much for older people to pay £10.00 and £15.00. A letter had been sent to the Chief Executive of RVS about the cost increase, although to date a response had not been received. A representative from RVS stated that they were aware of the letter and that a response would be generated. It was highlighted that to enable the service to run it had to be sustainable.
It was queried whether there would be any flexibility in the cost for the service. For example, if the callout was only for a 15 minute job. It was noted that the biggest cost was the first initial call out charge. It was proposed that a tiering system would be introduced and that volunteers might deal with quick jobs so that there could be flexibility in the costs. However the RVS could not afford to maintain the scheme at the current price. RVS commented that their service would still maintain the same quality. They were aware of other services and would be signposting to others.
A piece of work had been commissioned to produce a directory of services in Middlesbrough similar to the one issued by Social Care. Different Services would assess peoples needs and signpost access to these services.