Northern Ireland

Southern Trust area 'meals on wheels' costs to rise

man delivering meals on wheels to pensionner
Image caption The Southern trust provides 450 people with meals on wheels services

Meals on wheels gives thousands of pensioners a hot meal in their own home, but some in the Southern Trust area may find themselves paying considerably more for the service.

For those ineligible for a free meal the cost to pay for it is increasing from £1.25 to £4.25. Sinn Fein spokesperson on welfare rights, Mickey Brady has said this is unfair.

"Once again we're targetting the most vulnerable, we're targetting the elderly, we're adding to the isolation and marginalisation of those peoplen who, in many cases are very much left to their own devices," he said.

Brendan Whittle is the Assistant Director of the Southern Trust which provides support to 5,000 people who require some level of home care, including domicillary care or personal care.

He told BBC's Good Morning Ulster that the trust provides 450 people with free meals through its meals on wheels service.

"The Southern Trust hasn't put up its charge for meal services the contribution people make is unchanged," he said.

"I think the circumstances which relate to the figure of £4.50 are where somebody who is no longer eligible for a trust meals on wheels service then choose to buy meals privately. If they choose to do that they will pay that company whatever the going rate is."

Nutrition

Mr Brady argued that the trust "has withdrawn the subsidy to help people get these meals".

According to Mr Whittle if an individual's situation has improved since their initial assessment then the trust would stop providing the meals on wheels service.

"But we would talk to the individual to determine how they will have their need for food and nutrition met," he said.

Throughout the rest of Northern Ireland the local trusts operate different policies for providing meals on wheels services.

The South Eastern trust charges £4.85 per meal if a person no longer meets the criteria, the cost of a subsidised meal is £2.

The Belfast Trust provides subsidised meals at £1.60 a day.

The Western Trust said that meals on wheels is provided to an individual in line with their assessed need.

The Northern Trust said it does operate a similar scheme, but did not provide costs.

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