TENANTS of sheltered housing schemes will continue to receive support despite proposed county-wide changes to key services, Red Kite has said.
More than 60 residents of Nancy Hall Court petitioned Red Kite Community Housing after learning they may no longer have a dedicated scheme manager on the site off John Hall Way.
Red Kite has moved to reassure residents they will still receive ‘floating support’ from a team of workers, as opposed to a designated scheme manager, under plans to separate its support and estate services.
It said it has no choice but to adapt because of a “fundamental review” of support services being carried out by Buckinghamshire County Council in the wake of government funding cuts.
Alan Keers, Red Kite’s director of operations, said: “We have seen the petition and realise customers are anxious about changes, as are we.
“We know there will be a change in the delivery of services and BCC are moving away from dedicated scheme managers to floating support.
“The risk if we don’t match up to that is we would be put in a disadvantageous position in bidding for the new contract, a new supplier is found, potentially with different people working in the schemes.
“So we are trying to look at how we can match up to what is changing with the needs of our customers, as we would rather provide support services to our housing customers so we can fill any gaps ourselves.”
Mr Keers said Red Kite had seen its payments from BCC slashed by 15 percent since the start of its current support service contract in 2010.
The community housing firm has agreed to extend its current contract until March while the county council’s review and consultation is held – despite Red Kite operating at a £238,000 loss on the service every year.
Mr Keers added: “It has been an emotional response by our vulnerable customers asking ‘why are we making changes’ and saying they do not want to lose whoever their familiar scheme manager is.
“But these proposed changes are across the county, this is not just a Red Kite issue; every housing provider in the county is facing this.
“And we have been meeting with our customers to try to get them on board, and explain the changes and the relationship we have with BCC.”
Support services include home visits, welfare checks, referrals to agencies including health services and helping tenants with security.
BCC confirmed it is about to begin its evaluation of service contracts.
It added: “We are currently fact-finding and holding discussions with both sheltered housing providers and tenants' representatives to enable us to consider the best options for services in the future.
“Once a clear view of service requirements has been obtained, a formal consultation will take place with existing service providers leading into a tendering process for new service contracts.”