Hidden County cut set to hit vulnerable pensioners

"An appalling example of insensitivity."

That's the reaction from a Hampshire MP after it emerged Hampshire County Council will make controversial cuts to support and alarm services for thousands of pensioners across Hampshire.

The planned cuts, which didn't even appear in the Conservative-run County Council's budget last month, will see County Council funding for support and alarm services in all First Wessex properties stopped, meaning services like alarm pull-chords and emergency pendants will be under threat.

The news emerged after First Wessex updated residents on the imminent changes. It is unclear exactly how many pensioners will be affected, but there are fears the changes will affect all Hampshire pensioners living in Housing Association accommodation and possible many thousands more.

First Wessex currently provides support and alarm services, part-funded by the County Council, in the form of either pull-cords within the homes or pendants to aid residents to call for emergency assistance.

With funding for alarm services due to be pulled from the end of this September, and support services' funding stopped by April next year, there are some doubts about how First Wessex and other Housing associations would be able to fund the shortfall.

Eastleigh MP Mike Thornton has deplored the County Council's cuts, and is demanding answers on how widespread the impact could be.

Commenting, Eastleigh MP Mike Thornton said:

"Hampshire County Council has a bad record when it comes to looking after the people of this county, but this is really a new low. Cutting alarm and support funding would leave many thousands of elderly residents vulnerable and cut off from emergency help.

"It's a needless, and completely heartless thing to do. The County Council has over £400 million in their reserves for a 'rainy day'. They ought to be spending some of this to maintain vital support for pensioners.

"Even worse, Conservative County bosses have tried to bury the bad news, and didn't present their plan for this at last month at its Budget meeting.

"Elderly residents need answers - how many pensioners will this cut affect, and will other Housing Associations be expected to foot the bill. County Bosses clearly have questions to answer."

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