‘We could be losing our lifeline’ - resident’s fear at Norfolk sheltered housing service cuts

Jill Osborne who lives in sheltered housing in Long Stratton faces having vital lifeline services ta

Jill Osborne who lives in sheltered housing in Long Stratton faces having vital lifeline services taken away due to council cuts. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Elderly residents in sheltered accommodation say they fear losing their lifeline services when cuts are made to the county's adult social care budget.

Jill Osborne who lives in sheltered housing in Long Stratton faces having vital lifeline services ta

Jill Osborne who lives in sheltered housing in Long Stratton faces having vital lifeline services taken away due to council cuts. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Saffron Housing, which has 480 sheltered homes across Norfolk for older people with physical or learning difficulties, says it is losing £189,000 of funding when support from Norfolk County Council comes to an end in February 2018.

A spokesman for the organisation stressed no decisions have been made about changes to services it provides as a result, as it is still consulting with residents.

But Jill Osborne, a disabled Saffron Housing resident who has a panic alarm pull chord in her bungalow, said she was worried about her future and that of other tenants.

The 76-year-old, who lives alone in Snape Hall Road, Long Stratton after the death of her husband, said: 'I'm not very happy about it. I think it's a bit unfair to take the money away.

Jill Osborne who lives in sheltered housing in Long Stratton faces having vital lifeline services ta

Jill Osborne who lives in sheltered housing in Long Stratton faces having vital lifeline services taken away due to council cuts. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN - Credit: Sonya Duncan


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'Being on my own, I feel more vulnerable. That pull chord has saved my life and my husband's two or three times. We could be losing our lifeline.'

Norfolk County Council said it was unable to comment about the changes, which will see £11m cut from the adult social care budget as part of £48m of savings agreed by the authority in February.

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Some outreach services for older people and floating support for those with mental health needs will end this summer, while sheltered housing support will end in February next year.

Earlier this year James Bullion, director of adult social care at Norfolk County Council, acknowledged there was a 'trade off' between spending on low-level services and using money to target specific services.

Jill Osborne who lives in sheltered housing in Long Stratton faces having vital lifeline services ta

Jill Osborne who lives in sheltered housing in Long Stratton faces having vital lifeline services taken away due to council cuts. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Other charities including The Benjamin Foundation and YMCA Norfolk - which provide support and accommodation for young people - had called on the council to think again over the cuts prior to February's decision.

A spokesman for Saffron Housing said: 'Our main concern is for our tenants and how we make things work best for them. We don't want people to panic about it.

'We have to listen to what they want. We don't definitely want to say we're cutting x, y or z - that's why we're asking people what they're priorities are and trying to see how we can make this work for everyone's benefit.'

The consultation has run for around a month and will continue for several weeks.

Last month Catherine Guelbert, chairman of Saffron Housing Trust, said: 'In the current economic climate, we need to be innovative around the way we manage and deliver our services to ensure we achieve maximum impact from reduced budgets.

'We are currently looking into all options and will be considering recommendations following a report that is due in July.

'Our board takes its responsibilities and obligations as a provider of social housing very seriously and will continue to do so,'

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