SNP calls for rethink on sheltered housing cover

The SNP Council Group has again called for a rethink on the provision of sheltered housing officer cover following the announcement of massive Council underspends.

SNP finance spokesman, Cllr. Fergus Hood said: “While the ‘Alliance’ is doing everything in its power to portray its £25 million underspend as a good news story, the simple truth is that it is the result of a chronic failure to deliver the services which we had budgeted to provide.

“It is also an indication that the drastic budget cuts which have been made on top of that underspend may have been quite unnecessary.

“Now we are being presented with the revelation that the cuts to sheltered housing officer cover have produced even bigger ‘saving’ than anticipated, much of it from unfilled vacancies, yet the ‘Alliance’ seem determined to try to paint that as yet another victory for prudence.”

Cllr. Rob Merson, who has led on this issue on behalf of the SNP Council Group remarked: “The reality is that, having axed permanent sheltered housing officers, Aberdeenshire Council has failed to maintain even the reduced level of cover which was assured - and elderly and vulnerable residents are now being put at risk.

“I have received numerous complaints that sheltered housing complexes are being left without officer cover for entire days – and further complaints that the out-of-hours service is consistently failing to provide an adequate response.

“Residents are also complaining of the extensive use of agency staff who are unfamiliar with the workings of the complexes – or the residents.

“I am aware that a number of sheltered housing residents have expressed their serious concerns with the new arrangements that have been put in place.

“Those arrangements are currently being reviewed, and the outcome is to be brought before councillors in November.

“I have therefore written to the director of housing and social work to call for the abandonment of this policy.

“I know for a fact that members of the ‘Alliance’ are also receiving complaints from sheltered housing residents in their own Wards - and I call on them to look to their consciences.

SNP Shadow Council Leader, Cllr. Hamish Vernal added: “I very much hope that the Tory-led ‘Alliance’ will take the views of the sheltered housing residents on board and admit that the introduction of peripatetic staff has been a failed experiment.

“We must return to the level of sheltered housing officer cover which gave the residents the support and security that is necessary for their health, safety and peace of mind.”