New charge for alarm service

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Vulnerable residents are to be charged for a potentially lifesaving alarm service after funding was withdrawn by Northamptonshire County Council.

The Lifeline Alarm Service, offered by Daventry and District Housing (DDH) to some of its vulnerable tenants, includes a necklace and phone alarm system residents can use to call for help in case of an emergency.

As of September 30,residents will be required to pay a minimum of £21.16 a month to keep the system after a grant that paid for the service for people on full or partial housing benefit was scrapped last year. It was later extended to September 30.

But some residents have raised concerns over the pressure the additional cost will put on vulnerable people and their families.

Paul Hart, who is a health and safety consultant, said his mother Anorah Hart had been using the Lifeline alarm for three years and recognised its importance first-hand when the 87-year-old tripped over a garden wall at her Daventry home and was unable to get up.

Mr Hart said: “I had been at the shops and when I returned I found her on her back in the garden. It highlighted for me the importance of the alarm. I know it is only £20 per month, but for some elderly people that £20 is the difference between freezing and keeping warm. It is putting a awful lot of people at severe risk.”

Arthur Pearce, 73, of the Southbrook estate, has used Lifeline since he moved into his DDH-owned bungalow in 2001. He said: “It is a vital service to a lot of people. I am really angry they (the council) are not listening to us.”

A DDH spokesman said:“We are working with the Citizens Advice Bureau to support any tenants concerned about being able to afford this valued service and would urge anybody concerned to contact us and access the support available.”

Tenants with concerns about the changes can speak to DDH staff at 0300 456 2531.