Birmingham’s Supporting People funding cuts to affect alarm users (UK)

There are a complex set of issues buried under the obvious angles on which the newspaper concentrates. They concern historical patterns of provision, changed technology and people’s expectations. ‘Too expensive’ 999 cords axed from sheltered homes The Mirror.

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  1. UpNorthAndToTheRight

    Very similar across the country. I am surprised this has not popped up before (or has it?).

    In a ‘Northern City’ a housing association (biggest in the city with 1000+ units) took a £300,000 hit when the Supporting People (SP) funding ended for them in April 2011. All funding ceased for private sheltered but somehow the City Council managed to keep/find funding for its own schemes in 2011-2012.

    I am surprised at Birmingham though – haven’t they spent a fortune with Tunstall and Tunstall are ‘all hands to the pumps’ to deliver the numbers for 2013 that were predicted?

  2. Alasdair Morrison

    I do not understand why this is being proposed.

    As part of the Tunstall contract which uses Tunstall Response, why do they not transfer these connections over from Careline to Tunstall Response?? Whilst there will still be a monitoring charge, there can still be savings without the removal of the service.

    This should have been looked at in the original contract rather than running 2 similar services in parallel in Birmingham.

    Or could this be a marketing muse that will come out over the coming days with Tunstall offering to take these on so the service is not removed???!!!!??? Let us wait and see…..

  3. Jo

    Supporting People money is being reduced or removed all over the country, but other councils seem to find other ways of protecting their telecare and alarm services. This does suggest that maybe Birmingham council, with the help of its contractors (Tunstall, Myers and NRS), is providing a bit of spin here which will allow them to offer the sheltered housing tenants a service as part of the new contract which seems to be struggling otherwise to recruit enough customers.

    I am also amused by the £1.08 quoted for a basic alarm monitoring service to sheltered housing tenants who don’t suffer the same “churn” as other telecare users because of their tenancy agreements. The market value for monitoring only contracts of this type these days is in the order of 35p per week because of the enormous excess capacity in the monitoring centres. Alasdair could be right that Tunstall are lining this up as a potential good news story involving a two-thirds saving to the council by outsourcing to their national centre. In practice, similar savings could have been achieved without the disruption by renegotiating the alarm contracts with existing providers of monitoring service.

  4. Kevin Doughty

    Maybe the silver lining around this story is that the sheltered housing tenants will give up their pull cords (which are probably tied up anyway) as relics of a 20th century?

    Looking forward, they may choose to use their own mobile phones in an inexpensive mCare service which will provide them with easy access to a monitoring centre when they are out and about as well as in their homes. This would mean a very personal service (perhaps including SMS reminders and advice) without the need for expensive maintenance contracts. I’ll bet that the weekly cost to the tenants would be considerably less than 50p per week, yielding significant savings to councils, whilst avoiding the need for service elements that stigmatise rather than empower the users.

    Difficult financial circumstances demand radical service redesign – and that’s what mobile technology offers.

  5. Alasdair Morrison

    I agree Kevin,

    Pull cords are only ever useful if the person quoted in the Mirror ‘falls or has a heart attack’ within reach of one :-)

    What is surprising is that some services are now getting round the SP cuts by providing the same services (wardens that do everything)that were in situ prior to SP being introduced. Apparently, people can claim the cost of this service through their benefits.

    As you say, what they should be doing is embracing new technology and the opportunities out there to deliver new services that do not cost the earth.