A ‘handy person’ service to help the vulnerable stay in their own homes in Barnsley is being scrapped from the end of October after a 30 year lifespan because the council say they have “identified some duplication of activities” which means there are unnecessary costs.
But Yorkshire Housing, which has operated the service on behalf of the council insist the decision “will be a blow to the people who use it” and described the development as “disappointing”.
The handy person service has operated by providing quick and easily accessed help for those who need small modifications – such as hand rails and grab handles – installing to allow them to continue living safely in their own home.
It is provided by Yorkshire Housing, through its Home Improvement Agency and has had support from Barnsley Council until now, with the loss of the contract meaning at least one redundancy among its staff.
Despite the change, the Home Improvement Agency will continue to work closely with the council to do some similar work, but in future those wanting to use the service will have to be referred by the council rather than calling in help directly.
Layla Gorman, manager of the South Home Improvement Agency team, said: “This is so disappointing for us and our staff as we’ve had this contract for such a long time and we feel that this service is of vital importance to the local area.
“This news will be a blow to the people who use it, as sometimes the handyperson can be the only face a customer sees all day.
“Such cutbacks are damaging to the local community and I understand that local authorities such as Barnsley Council are under immense pressure with government cuts, however, I hope it can meet its responsibility to ensure that similar services can be accessed.
“These changes will also affect our dedicated staff and we will have to make some difficult decisions over the next couple of weeks.”
A second impact for Barnsley residents mean they will not benefit from a recent success for the Home Improvement Agency, which has secured funding to carry out gas checks on appliances in residents homes, because that work was tied in to the contract which is now to end.
Cllr Jenny Platts, Spokesperson for Communities, at Barnsley Council said: “We continually assess opportunities to enhance our services and ensure that we provide the best value for our residents.
“We’ve reviewed the Handy Person service provided by Yorkshire Housing Association (YHA) alongside reviewing other services that are provided to residents across the borough. In doing so we have identified some duplication of activities which can create confusion for people wanting to access services but also creating unnecessary costs to the public purse.
“It is important to note that residents won’t see a change of service they receive, for those who require home adaptations, they’ll be able to find services throughlivewellbarnsley.co.uk or contact the Customer Access Team on 01226 773 300.”