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Charity can’t afford to rescue hot meals for over 50s
6:10pm Saturday 7th September 2013 in News
A CHARITY has explained why it hasn’t stepped in to save a hot meals service for the over fifties in Basildon which is to stop at the end of the year.
Basildon Council is having to stop the subsidised service to save money, but asked for bids from other interested parties to take it on.
The Basildon branch of Age Matters, a charity which champions the cause of older people, was keen to take control and allegedly promised members of the George Hurd Centre, in Basildon, it would be making a bid.
However, the charity did not formally submit an application during a recent tender process because it cannot take on the day centre’s kitchen staff on their existing terms and conditions.
The branch’s chairman and patron, Mayor of Basildon Mo Larkin, said the group could not afford to pay the staff wages and was apparently advised by Basildon Council’s solicitor not to make a bid. She said: “It makes it an impossible situation for us. We want to run it as a voluntary organisation, but we can’t do it because of the staff’s TUPE rights.
“If they are made redundant, whoever takes them over has to pay the redundancy and we struggle to raise money anyway.
“I want to do it so much. I believe that members should have a hot meal, but my hands are tied unless we can get some money.”
Transfer of undertakings, known as TUPE, is an area within employment law that protects employees when the business they are working for, or part of it, is transferred from one employer to another.
Christine Nurse, branch manager, claimed Basildon Council ignored the group’s interest in taking on the service, but also admitted it could not take on the staff.
However, she explained it was still “trying” and was making an application to the National Lottery for the cash, after other funding bids failed. The council’s ruling Tory administration is axing the meals service to save £158,000 a year on staff and other costs.
Pensioners pay £3.60 for each meal, with the council covering the remaining £4.40 cost.
Cutting the service has caused outrage among members of the George Hurd centre; the Place, in Northlands Pavement, Pitsea; the Laindon Activity Centre, in Aston Road, Laindon; and the Priority Club, in Lower Southend Road, Wickford.
Councillors will meet on Thursday, September 12, to discuss the possibility that if no alternative means are found of providing
the hot meals, and following further staff and user consultation, the service will end on December 31.
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