Tenants asked about job cutsBy Linda Fort
October 11, 2011
People living in sheltered housing in Reading are being consulted about changes which could lead to staff cuts.
The 335 tenants in 10 sheltered schemes and their families are being asked their views in a three-month consultation about the changes.
At the moment, there is one dedicated officer for each sheltered housing scheme and that will continue in three of them – Christchurch Court, Bristow Court and Tyrrell Court.
Proposed changes for the other seven are that two teams of staff will cover them all, with people available on site at specific times depending on need.
Staffing levels will be reduced to three officers, instead of four, covering St Stephen’s Court, Weirside, Woodlands and Trinity.
There would be one part-time and one full-time officer, instead of three full-time staff, for Corwen Road, Liebenrood Road and Durham Close.
One proposal involves a change which will mean that, instead of having two staff on duty providing weekend cover across all 10 sites, there will be just one.
In addition, 24-hour, seven days a week, cover will continue to be be provided by the Forestcare community alarm service.
Other plans under discussion include introducing a new post for an activities officer to develop and promote social and healthy activities across all the sheltered housing scheme.
The consultation will also be asking about changing the way the night service is provided. At the moment, two members of staff well-known to the elderly residents respond to calls between 5pm and 8am.
According to the council consultation paperwork, they answer between 450 and 500 calls a year. But about half the calls come from the same 10 tenants.
The consultation document says: “Whilst we appreciate that this service provides peace-of-mind, it is not highly used by the majority of tenants.”
It goes on: “We are therefore very keen to find out your views on the night service during the discussion.”
The plans to review the councils sheltered housing service were proposed last November by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition then in power and the review continued when Labour took over in May.
Lib Dem leader Daisy Benson raised concerns about the consultation saying: “Labour are picking on some of the most vulnerable people in Reading. Our top priority is to protect the most vulnerable children and adults in Reading.
Lead councillor for housing and neighbourhoods Rachel Eden said: “Any proposed change to such an important service can cause understandable concern. It is important people realise that no decision has yet been made about the proposals.
The consultation ends on December 16. Copies of the questionnaire are available at the Civic Centre and an online version can be found at