COUNCILLORS have called for assurance that elderly people are not being “disadvantaged” by a price increase for community meals in Monmouthshire.

The number of people receiving the council’s Monmouthshire Meals service has fallen to below 1,000 per week since the cost went up.

The service, previously known as meals on wheels, sees hot or frozen meals delivered to anyone who has an assessed need in the county.

Increasing prices was hoped to bring in an extra £15,000 but the council says the saving is now unlikely due to the fall in numbers taking up the service.

The price for a main meal and dessert went up by 45p to £4.50 per day as part of savings in last year’s budget.

Cllr Martyn Groucutt said the council’s adults select committee was “very worried” about the decrease in numbers, adding the service also ensures vulnerable people are checked up on.


At a meeting on Tuesday, Cllr Groucutt asked Eve Parkinson, the council’s head of adult services: “Are you saying you can put your hand on your heart and say no elderly people are being disadvantaged by the increase?”

Ms Parkinson said: “I can put my hand on my heart and say nobody is being disadvantaged that we know of.”

Cllr Frances Taylor, chairwoman of the committee, said further assurances were needed, questioning how the authority knew that people were not being hit by the increased cost.

“It would seem to be a little bit of a coincidence that we have increased the cost and we have had a decrease in take up,” Cllr Taylor added.

Ms Parkinson said there were a variety of reasons for the fall in numbers though, including new council initiatives helping to combat loneliness and encouraging people to become more independent.

“We want Monmouthshire Meals to be part of the bigger intervention if somebody is lonely and isolated,” she added.

The council has also run a trial of a Monmouthshire Meals Plus service.

Instead of drivers just delivering meals, they would also spend up to 15 minutes at the person’s home to stay for a chat and a cup of tea under the scheme.

The expansion of the scheme would provide more of a focus on social interaction.

Council officials are now considering the results of the pilot and whether the scheme can be introduced.