Barnet Tories: Food banks an option to replace axed meals at home service

At last night’s Adults & Safeguarding Committee, Barnet’s Tories voted to axe the long standing and vital council meals at home service for vulnerable and elderly residents, claiming that it would be adequate to "signpost" those in need to other food options in the borough. The food options listed in an appendix as available in the borough included food banks in Grahame Park and East Barnet; alongside supermarket deliveries, community organisations and privately sourced meals on wheels. (page 91 - 92, Appendix A, Equalities Impact Assessment, Agenda Item 8, 12 November.)

Labour spokesperson for Adult Social Care, Cllr Reema Patel slammed the proposals, and said that "Proposing food banks as a replacement for the home meals service for residents is reprehensible and demonstrates the depths to which Tory-run Barnet Council is now sinking to."

This decision also comes after a report recently released by Trust for London which finds that local authorities axing meals on wheels is a major contributor to food poverty.

The Tories also ignored other options, including supporting community based meals on wheels, and partnering with other local authorities to retain the service; dismissing successful models operating in Labour run boroughs such as Brent, Southwark, Lambeth and Lewisham.

The Tories forced the proposals through despite the fact the consultation found that ‘people are not in favour of the proposal.’ In addition, the council's own Equalities Impact Assessment revealed a disproportionate negative impact on older people aged 85 and over, people with physical disabilities, and carers, as well as diverse communities as the council currently subsidises halal, kosher and Asian vegetarian meals.

Labour member of the Adults & Safeguarding Committee, Cllr Phil Cohen said, ‘What is the point of consulting the people of Barnet if you totally ignore what they say about the harmful effects of taking away this vital service? The feedback clearly shows that users and carers want this service to be continued, and the Barnet Tories should be examining their consciences if they really feel this move is in the best interests of the residents they are supposed to represent.’

Ends.

Notes:

1. A copy of the Meals at Home reports can be found here (Agenda Item 8):

http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=698&MId=8362&Ver=4

2. A copy of the Trust for London report "Beyond the food bank" on food poverty can be found here:

http://www.trustforlondon.org.uk/news-and-events/news-and-comments/gaping-holes-in-safety-net-results-in-food-poverty-for-vulnerable-londoners-new-report-shows/

http://www.trustforlondon.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/BeyondTheFoodBankReport_FINAL_20152010.pdf

For more information contact:

Cllr Reema Patel: cllr.r.patel@barnet.gov.uk

To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568

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