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Vulnerable and elderly to pay for pendant alarms after funding slashed

Staffordshire | News | Published:

More than 600 elderly and vulnerable people in Staffordshire will have to pay for pendant alarms in their homes after council bosses slashed funding, it has emerged.

Around 2,000 residents currently get the alarms for free - but Staffordshire County Council is withdrawing funding in a bid to save £214,000 from its budget.

Cannock Chase Council agreed to step in and fund a scaled-down version but said users will have to meet certain criteria if they don't want to pay for the alarms.

Now it has emerged that the authority has £117,000 to spend on the service which will provide alarms for 1,350 residents, meaning hundreds more will have to pay up to £86 a year to get one.

Cannock's full council will meet this evening to approve shelling out the money from April next year to keep the service going for some residents.

In the meantime the authority is also paying £107,000 for the alarms up until April next year.

Council leader George Adamson said: "We cannot afford to pick up the whole tab so this is the only option.

"We can only pay a proportion of the current cost. The county council has cut funding and this is the situation we are in."

The criteria to qualify for free usage includes being over the age of 70 or in receipt of a disability-related benefit. Staffordshire County Council is slashing £6 million from is Supporting People Grant, despite huge criticism. The fund , created in 2003, is used to provide housing-based support to groups, including those with mental health problems and the elderly.

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Bosses at Cannock Chase Council called the decision 'disgusting'.

The County Council is having to make £102m cuts from its budget over the next five years.

As part of the cuts, 24 of the 43 libraries across the county would be taken over by volunteers to save £1.3 million over the next three years. Youth clubs also face the axe.

Councillor Alan White, the county council's cabinet member for care, said the move did not mean the authority was no longer supporting its residents.

He said: "It is important that we invest what resources we have in the most co-ordinated, targeted and effective way to help more people lead independent lives and crucially protect the most vulnerable."

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