GARDENING and handymen services are under threat of disappearing from sheltered accommodation and frail pensioner's homes under £7.6million of county council cut backs.
It comes as the future of wardens are in doubt as pensioners living in older people’s homes in Hampshire are set to lose their emergency alarms when the system is replaced with telecare sensors.
As previously reported only those deemed in the greatest need will receive a sensor, meaning that hundreds of elderly people across the county could lose the ability to summon help.
Now it has emerged that older people in their homes and scores of sheltered homes in Hampshire face losing gardening and handymen support as the county plans to pull the plug on funding.
A final decision will be made by county chiefs tomorrow.
But opposition county Lib Dem councillors fear that removing this service will leave pensioners vulnerable to exploitation.
Speaking at a scrutiny committee today, Totton south and Marchwood county councillor David Harrison said: “I am very concerned about reducing the funding for general maintenance and gardening services.
“I think that will make them more vulnerable to the legions of cow boy traders who don’t always deliver good value and frankly sometimes rip people off.”
With the funding removed for the alarm system, it is unclear how wardens will be funded by housing associations, alms houses or other charitable sheltered housing providers.
The new telecare system will contact a “monitoring centre” that uses state-of-the-art technology to detect if someone is in trouble.
It includes automatic fall alarms where the user does not need to press the button to trigger an alert, devices to discourage dementia sufferers from leaving the house at night and sensors that can tell if a frail person is up, and active or not, in their home.
A nominated person such as a carer or family member would then be contacted.
Baddesley county councillor Alan Dowden said the cuts were “depressing”.
He said: “Over the years, I believe older person’s services have improved.
“I believe it’s a major step backwards in the quality of care for Hampshire’s older people.
“You cannot cut 80 per cent of a budget and expect a similar provision. It does not matter innovative you are. It is going to be a difficult time for older people in Hampshire and it saddens me.
“I think this is a change that is wrong.” After being told to make savings following the passing of a £100 million budget cuts earlier this year, council officers have homed in on areas they do not have to provide by law. Under plans funding for support services for homeless and young people will also be ditched.
Cllr Liz Fairhurst, Adult and social care and public health boss, is set to decide on the cuts to alarms, handymen and proposals tomorrow.