Meals on wheels under threat

Posted by Sophie Regester in Personal Finance on 24 January 2017 - Sophie is a Senior Credit Analyst at checkmyfile.

Meals on wheels are a welcome treat, or even a necessity for many elderly people who may struggle to prepare their own hot meals. It’s not only the meal itself that may put a smile on someone’s face, but the delivery person may be the highlight of that older person’s day if they don’t receive many visitors or have family living close by.

Unfortunately, the average price of the meal is on the increase and the increase in price is significant, as much as £1.60 per meal in some places.

The National Association of Care Catering has found that the cost of an average hot meal has risen from £3.62 to £4.30 since 2014, an average percentage increase of 19%. As with many things, depending on where you are in the country depends on how hard your service has been hit with the price increase - those worst off find they are now paying £5.60 per meal. The price increase being so considerable in certain areas is due to the fact that some councils have stopped subsidising meals and other councils have axed such schemes in their entirety.

The worry is that those most vulnerable may struggle to keep using such services and this vital lifeline may be cut off. Though it seems that we are all tightening our belts and all councils appear to be more limited in the funds they have to allocate, it is a shame to see this sort of service under threat.

I guess though that providing meals for old folks is hardly a money spinner, even with the price increases it is probably only just wiping its own face. There are lots of overheads to consider including the ingredients, the packaging, the cook and the cooking equipment, the gas/electric to cook with, the delivery person, the delivery vehicle and fuel and perhaps most crucially the time. Shame though it may be perhaps this is just one of those things that we will look back on in a generation’s time and say “Imagine that, home delivered meals for the elderly, what a pity that doesn’t happen anymore.”

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