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Care Services (Essex)

Volume 497: debated on Monday 12 October 2009

The Petition of Mavis Hunt, and others,

Declares that permanent live in wardens in sheltered housing, for instance at Sweetbriar Lodge, should be retained, and notes the wonderful care and confidence these wardens give to vulnerable and elderly residents, enabling them to live with a degree of independence and dignity; further declares that councillors have full control of this decision and will be held to account for it; believes that a small expenditure on wardens can save much public money; congratulates wardens in Castle Point who are caring and thoughtful towards residents; expresses astonishment that Borough councillors are, yet again, threatening to remove wardens to save cash in a very short sighted manner and believes that councillors should start to listen to residents and the public.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to review its guidance to local councils on the use of permanent wardens and to ask Castle Point Borough Council to listen to the Member of Parliament and continue to support our local wardens.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Bob Spink, Official Report, 20 April 2009; Vol. 491, c. 122 .]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, received 12 October 2009:

The Secretary of State acknowledges the concerns of the petitioners regarding the continued use of resident wardens in warden controlled accommodation.

We are aware that a number of older people are concerned about changes to the warden systems in some sheltered housing schemes, and the implications that such changes might have. I should like to emphasise that the Government are very mindful of the housing and support needs of all older people—wherever they live—whether in their “own homes”, or with family, or in supported housing, like sheltered or extra care accommodation, or residential care establishments. The Government want to ensure that our older citizens should get the best housing and support services that can be made available locally and in the most effective way.

It is however, for local authorities to determine how to best meet the support needs identified in their communities—the Department does not prescribe any particular model of support. Communities and Local Government has given local authorities £1.686 billion of Supporting People funding. Authorities use this funding to provide housing support to a whole range of people, focusing their spending to best meet local need. All decisions about how the services are funded and monitored, which includes satisfaction with the service, are therefore made at the local level. From 1 April 2009 the Supporting People Programme grant was un-ringfenced. This supports our clear commitment to provide authorities with greater flexibility over their funding and allows them to develop innovative solutions to meet local needs.

We want to improve the delivery of support services for older people further, which is why we recently brought together representatives from Age Concern and Help the Aged and other key players such as the Local Government Association to form the Sheltered Housing Working Group. A number of ministerial led meetings have already taken place and work is progressing on taking forward the issues identified by the working group, to decide how to best work with and support the sector and service users going forward.