HOUSING support for the elderly across Hertfordshire is to radically change, while funding is also to be reduced.

Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) have told suppliers that instead of support services - which are currently available to between 10 and 20 per cent of the county’s elderly population - being ‘fixed’ to sheltered housing accommodation, it will become ‘floating’ support to enable more people to be eligible.

The amount of money being made available through the Supporting People Grant will also be cut by 31 per cent.

A spokesman for HCC said: “We want to address these issues (of limited availability) by moving to a new, more flexible commissioning model so services can be made available to older people in any housing situation. This will ensure that more older people have access to a service and that it is directed to those that need it most.

“The uniform price that we will pay for each type of service means that some providers will see no reduction in funding because they already work within the price parameters.

“However, there are others with relatively more costly services which will see significant reductions to bring them in-line with the proposed price levels.”

Providers of support services must now decide whether they are able to deliver the new floating service from April next year and formally advise HCC on the outcome.

Social landlord North Hertfordshire Homes (NHH) have over 500 residents who will be affected.

Chief executive Kevin Thompson said: “We are deeply concerned about our residents’ well-being and the timescales we have been given.

“We have been asked to fundamentally change the service we offer and we must ensure our residents have as much time as possible to consider what these changes mean and to discuss them with families.”

NHH is consulting with residents on three possible options before it makes its decision. They could withdraw from providing support services staff; rearrange their support services to provide a floating service with reduced funding, or make no changes – and ask those residents who receive the Supporting People Grant to pay the difference of �8.11 per week themselves.

Andrew Buchan, head of care and supported housing at NHH, added: “We believe that asking some people for more money is not fair and would cause severe hardship.”

Cllr Ann Webb, executive member for Housing at Stevenage Borough Council, said: “We will soon be reviewing our services that we provide under the Supporting People Programme. However, no decision will be taken until we have fully consulted with service users and other interested parties. We are a listening, caring council and will always do our best to help vulnerable people in Stevenage.”