Jobs will be lost as the provider of East Sussex’s meals on wheels service is set to lose the contract .
Apetito expressed ‘deep regret’ that it had no alternative but to close its service centres in Hastings and Hailsham, which will affect 28 staff.
While East Sussex County Council will still be subsidising ‘meals in the community’ for elderly and vulnerable residents, it has decided to end the single-provider arrangement at the end of September.
Paul Freeston, chief executive at Apetito, said, “We have served the community in East Sussex for more than 13 years and have worked hard to maintain our provision.
“However, it is with deep regret that further to our contract with East Sussex County Council ending, following a period of consultation, we have had no alternative but to close these depots.”
Everyone who is eligible for the scheme will still be provided a meal with the same level of subsidy, but will be able to choose from a number of suppliers, which the county council feels will ‘offer a greater choice to residents’.
A spokesperson for East Sussex County Council added, “In addition, residents who receive a meal and who require it will be supported by a regular ‘safe and well’ check, this means that regular checks will be made to ensure the individual is hydrated in the summer or staying warm in the winter.
“This is an important part of the service the council provides to ensure potentially vulnerable people are able to maintain their independence and safety in their own homes.”
According to an officers’ report from January only 490 residents received adult social care community meals, down from 540 in June 2014.
Take-up of the service had fallen, with a roughly 25 per cent reduction in volume over the previous four years.
Apetito also supplies a number of private clients without the support of the county council contract, and said it was no longer economically viable to provide this service, and has been actively encouraging customers to contact other providers.
For information on the meals in the community service call ESCC on 01273 482508.
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