The new provider of meals on wheels in West Sussex has been announced today (Wednesday September 16).
Apetito will take over the service in Ocober from the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) to deliver hot meals to around 800 residents. Prices will rise by 40p per lunch from next April.
The announcement comes just a month after it was revealed that Apetito’s contract to provide meals on wheels for East Sussex County Council would be ending.
Peter Catchpole, West Sussex County Council’s cabinet member for adult social care and health, said: “These meals are a vital service provided by West Sussex County Council.
“This service plays an important role helping ensure people using the service have a nutritious, hot meal and have someone visit them regularly to check on them, which can make a big difference to people who might be feeling isolated.”
The current service ends on October 18 and Apetito starts deliveries on October 19.
Paul Freeston, chief executive officer of Apetito, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have won the contract to supply and deliver meals on wheels to residents across West Sussex.
“This is a vital service that supports people’s health and wellbeing enabling them to remain independent within their own homes.”
The price customers pay for the hot lunch will remain at £4.20, exclusive of VAT, from October 19, but from April 1 2016, this will rise to £4.60, exclusive of VAT.
VAT will not have to be paid by those assessed as requiring care and support who may be amongst the most vulnerable in the community.
Mr Catchpole explained: “We want the meals on wheels service to support people to live independent, safe and healthy lives.
“As a council we understand how important it is that the service offers value for money for our customers and that is why we will be working with Apetito to keep prices as low as possible.
“However at the same time the service also needs to be sustainable and that is why it will be necessary for an increase in price next spring.”
A new contract for the service was put up for tender in 2013, making it cost-neutral to the county council and self-funded by the charity.
The RVS announced earlier this year it would not continue to run the service as it was losing ‘significant amounts of money each day’.
When the RVS announced it was pulling out of the contract in February Mr Catchpole said that the charity ‘had got its sums wrong’.
Meanwhile in East Sussex, the county council is continuing to subsidise ‘meals in the community’, but is moving away from a single-provider arrangement, giving a ‘greater choice to residents’.
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