OAP’s free repair service folds after cash runs out

Maintenance Plus offered a free household repair service to pensioners across Fife
Maintenance Plus offered a free household repair service to pensioners across Fife

Pensioners say they’ve been left high and dry after a free repair service across Fife folded after government funding dried up.

Maintenance Plus, which operated through Furniture Plus in Dysart, offered vulnerable pensioners vital help with odd job household chores such as fixing gates and garden sheds to installing community alarms.

The popular service, which launched in 2012 and consisted of just one paid tradesman, typically helped over 1200 elderly people in any 12 month period.

Mr Malby Goodman, a pensioner from Aberdour, said: “I’m 98 and have had a stroke and things like changing lightbulbs are difficult for me because I cannot climb ladders. They used to come and do it for me.

“It was a wonderful service. When funding stopped they just dropped it which was a very great pity.”

The service received £111,000 over three years from NHS Fife through the Scottish Government’s ‘Older People’s Change Fund”.

Gail Jackson, assistant manager at Furniture Plus told the Press: “We had a paid full time joiner, Gary, who, when the funding reduced, eventually took a pay cut to keep the service going and was quite happy to do that.

“We put some money to it ourselves but couldn’t fund it completely. We didn’t get an extension to the funding and when it ran out we had to make Gary redundant.”

She added: “It was a really popular service; a fantastic service for older people, it really was.

“We were inundated with referrals to install community alarms and keyboxes because although Fife Council supply them for free, the charge to have them fitted is around £200. That’s a lot for a pensioner.

“Even putting up a curtain pole helps because home helps are not allowed to do it.

”We have gone into houses that haven’t had a lick of paint for years and Gary has done the whole house for them at no cost at all.”

Mrs Chris Bowring, director of finance at NHS Fife said the fund’s use, from 2012-15, had been agreed in partnership between Fife Council, NHS Fife, private sector providers and the voluntary sector.

“The projects which received funding were aware this was short term funding,” she said.

Mr Goodman, however, feels the authorities should continue to address an identified need among Fife’s pensioner community.

He said: “Surely the service should be reintroduced without further delay, making a small charge to cover costs.

“It was only one man who drove around and I’m sure everybody would be quite willing to help keep the service going.”