The York Council has gone through today with its threat to cease the hedge and grass cutting service provided for many elderly and disabled people in the City
As we forecast, the Council is hoping to save £46,000 a year expenditure on its housing revenue account (HRA).
The HRA currently has a surplus of over £23 million and made £4.3m profit last year
The garden assistance scheme is available to tenants aged over 70 who are physically unable to cut the hedges and grass in their gardens.
The hedges are cut twice a year and the grass on 7 occasions.
409 tenants received the service in 2016.
365 received the service in 2017 following a tightening of the criteria for qualification.
It is thought that the new scheme involving use of the “handyman service” could cater for up to 306 elderly people.
The rest would not be given help. A waiting list might have to be established.
The service will in future be means rested.
The cut has been agreed by a Tory Councillor without any consultation with local Resident Associations or the citywide Tenants Federation.
Alternative medication to be made available for those quitting smoking
Additional support is set to be made available to residents who are trying to drop the habit and quit smoking.
Cllr Carol Runciman, Liberal Democrat Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Health, has given the go ahead for Varenicline (Champix) to be included as part of a new pharmacotherapy support package to users of our Yorwellbeing service.
Currently, Varenicline is only available through a private prescription from your GP or via an online pharmacy.
However, with the expansion of the current service offer, any individual who would like to stop smoking can be assessed for eligibility to the hardship fund and if they qualify for either Nicotine Replacement Therapy or Varenicline, they will be provided with an initial 2 weeks supply, followed by another 2 weeks if required. Research suggests that if an individual can quit smoking for 4 weeks, their chances of dropping the habit for good are increased five fold.
Over a year ago, the York Council notified elderly and disabled people that it planned to scrap its garden assistance scheme. The scheme employs contractors to cut the hedges and lawns of elderly and disabled residents.
The plans produced a barrage of complaints and the threat was withdrawn
Now a report has revealed that a Tory Councillor is again planning to slash entitlement to the service. About 50% of current users will be told to make other arrangements.
It appears that some people aged over 70 with severe disabilities may continue to get the service from an estate “handymen”, but many others will miss out.
Story last year
The cuts are expected to save the Council around £40,000 a year.
The Tories claim that this cut is essential to balance the books. They forget that last week a review of the Housing Revenue Account revealed that it will have an average credit balance of over £30 million in each of the next 30 years.
This partly arises from the expected 1% per annum real terms increases in rents.
As well as kicking existing users off the programme, the report talks of establishing a “waiting list” for people who need the service.
The Councillor responsible for the proposal is Sam Lyle a youth who recently graduated from University. Quite what he knows about the challenges faced by many older residents will no doubt become clear over the next few days.
Fortunately, as we have reported before (left), there are a lot of caring students at the York and St Johns Universities who hopefully will prove to be part of the solution to this shabby proposal
In the meantime, the Council’s website is down. Anyone trying to Email Councillors is referred to a web page apparently containing a list of contact telephone numbers. http://democracy.york.gov.uk/mgCommitteeMailingList.aspx?ID=0
That web page is also currently unavailable!
The “Good Gym” people who have helped out a lot in Foxwood getting local green areas cleaned up, are now getting rave reviews for a new service.
They aim to help older people with tasks which are beyond their physical capacities.
Check out their web site here https://www.goodgym.org/request-a-mission
click to go to the Good Gym site