Category: Tyne and Wear

From the Shields Gazette. 14th September 2010

PAGES 4 & 5 of Friday’s Gazette showed in eloquent detail how South Tyneside Council and the chosen lead members who share Cabinet responsibility are responsible for the demise of this borough over time.

First, let me say that I recognise the depleted budgets through the new coalition government that have been channelled down to councils, whatever their political persuasion.

However, it does not inform councils, as far as I am aware, how to manage that budget on a service-by-service basis, which is why I am appalled at the decision to stop subsidies to eight luncheon clubs and other charitable agents.

These meals are predominantly enjoyed by the aged and disabled, and in many instances are the only opportunity to socialise in an otherwise alien world it is their misfortune to inhabit. The saving – some £160,000 a year!…

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From the Shields Gazette. 9th September 2010.

CASH-strapped South Tyneside Council today announced swathing cuts to its provision of meals to day centres and luncheon clubs in the borough.

“The authority is to withdraw subsidised meals to eight luncheon clubs, and charitable organisations, impacting on hundreds of predominantly disabled and older people.

The council’s school meals service is to take over provision of meals to day centres as part of a re-organisation in Adult Social Care, designed to save about £160,000 a year.

Today a council boss blamed financial pressures from the coalition Government for “forcing us to into making some very difficult decisions”, with the authority facing up to the need to make about £16m savings over the next year.

But the decision was condemned by John Berry, the South Shields-based secretary of the North East Pensioners Association, who labelled it “a complete disgrace”.

He said: “Why target the most vulnerable in society with further cuts when they are already closing care homes?

“Before any final decision is made on this, we need to consult with government to see if these meals can be subsidised.

“They can’t just blame financial pressures. This is a very worrying development.”

The council provides more than 20,000 meals a year in day centres and luncheon clubs in the borough, charging £3.30 per meal.

But the authority says the actual cost of the meal is £8.87 – meaning it is subsidising each meal by £5.57.

The council is transferring meals currently provided by Adult Social Care to Wilfred Street, Hampden Street, Father James Walsh and the John Wright Day Centres to its Education Catering service. This will be provided from the Father James Walsh Day Centre kitchen in Hebburn.

But it will cease to directly provide or subsidise meals to eight luncheon clubs as well as charitable organisations – all of which are subsidised.” ….

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