Outcry as Hartlepool’s elderly and vulnerable told they must pay for Homecall community alarms

A Tunstall alarm
A Tunstall alarm

More than 1,500 elderly and vulnerable residents will have to pay for an “invaluable” community alarm service after council funding cuts.

Residents who use the Homecall service are now being written to about the charges following the withdrawal of £154,000 funding by Hartlepool Borough Council.

Hartlepool Civic Centre

Hartlepool Civic Centre

It comes as the Mail reported how the town’s elderly population is set to rocket in the next eight years.

About 1,600 residents in Hartlepool who use the service, delivered housing provider Thirteen, will have to pay around £20 a month.

Jean Fox, 77, of West View, Hartlepool, who is disabled, will be charged just under £20 a month.

Mrs Fox, who suffered a stroke in 2013 and has mobility problems, said: “I have paid full council tax and rates for 47 years.

“I have never had anything for free, I just think it’s wrong.

“It’s not the cost, it is the principle.”

A spokesperson for Thirteen said: “Homecall is an invaluable service for many of our elderly and vulnerable users and we will continue to provide this service to residents in Hartlepool.

“There will be a small charge when council funding is withdrawn and we are currently contacting residents to make them aware of this and we will work with them to address any concerns they may have.”

A Hartlepool Borough Council, which has paid for the service for a number of years, said: “Following a review of Housing Related Support Services, the Council is withdrawing a £154,000 contribution that it makes to the overall cost of the Homecall community alarms service delivered by Thirteen Group as a commissioned provider.

“This service is currently provided by Thirteen Group to approximately 1,600 people at no cost to the individual.

“This approach is not consistent with the practice of other housing providers within Hartlepool, who charge for the service in sheltered schemes, and nor is it consistent with practice elsewhere in the region or the country.

“The withdrawal of this subsidy is one of a range of measures agreed by councillors with the aim of delivering significant savings in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 financial years.

“Such decisions are never taken lightly but they reflect the continuing impact of Government funding cuts and the on-going severe financial pressures faced by the Council.”