Plans put forward to axe Norfolk's meals on wheels

Image caption,
The county council said vulnerable people would continue to be able to access hot food

Older people will have to pay for their meal on wheels services under new Norfolk County Council plans.

The council has announced that it is planning to stop its current subsidy in a bid to save £1.2m.

BBC-commissioned research, done by Experian, has been examining how areas of England will be affected by an increasing ageing population.

It found North Norfolk had the fourth highest proportion of people aged 75 and over in England, with 13.8% of its population in that age category.

Critics of the council's plans said the cut would particularly affect areas like this.

Currently the county council pays £4.96 and the customer contributes £3.24 towards each meal.

The council said higher charges would be phased in and vulnerable people would continue to be able to access hot food.

Those could include supermarket ready meals.

Asked if people would be forced to make difficult choices over what they could and could not afford, the Assistant Director of Community Services, James Bullion said he disagreed.

He added: "This is about people who need support making a decision about how they get the support - not whether they get the support or whether they have to choose between having a meal or a piece of equipment.

"They would continue to get both as now."

Mr Bullion said the current system was unfair because it only served half of Norfolk's ageing and vulnerable population.

He said it did not take into account individual needs or diets and it was not available seven days a week.

The chairman of Age UK Norfolk, Alan MacKim, said: "It's the threat to the actual delivery of the meals that is the important part.

"Not only does it get meals to older people in isolated conditions especially in rural areas of Norfolk but it also enables older people to have some sort of social contact.

"It also enables the people who make the calls to pick up on any warning signs that some older people may be heading for trouble."

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