Meals on wheels services for elderly and disabled people could be scrapped as part of a fresh wave of council budget cuts announced today.

The service, which is currently used by 177 people aged between 50 and 103-years-old, is provided seven days a week for those who are unable to prepare or cook a hot meal for themselves.

It costs Merton Council £153,000 a year and may be scrapped after March next year as part of a wave of cost savings.

Wimbledon Times:

CEO at the Merton Centre for Independent Living, Lyla Adwan-Kamara, pictured above, voiced her disappointment that the service may be stopped.

She said: "My view on it would be that there is an expectation that meals on wheels users would be able to go online and order some internet shopping, some ready meals and things.

"But at least 30 per cent of disabled and older people aren’t even online, and that’s likely to be even higher in this user group."

She added: "Many online supermarkets have increased their minimum delivery spend which can make it quite unaffordable.

"If they are going to cancel meals on wheels these extra things need to be taken into account."

According to the budget document on the council's website, the proposed changes to adult social care aims to increase "the emphasis on the customer, their wellbeing and the development of suitable solutions, whilst ensuring customers are not at risk and where possible enabling their independence to live as they desire where this possible.

"This will be achieved through harnessing the strengths and assets of individuals, families and communities and working closely with the voluntary sector to enable them to become more resilient in finding solutions for their lives, as well as supporting people to regain indepedence."

However, the document also acknowledges that the changes may have negative impact on some service users.

It says: "There could be a chance that some service users may feel the alternative service does not meet their needs."

Leader of the council, Councillor Stephen Alambritis, revealed to the Wimbledon Guardian the service would be cut ahead of the release of the latest budget on Friday, October 16.

He said: "We will engage with those people who rely on it, and with their carers and families.

"It is a really tough one."

A spokesman from the council said: "Most people can now buy frozen ready meals from the retail sector. For those few people who cannot heat up their own meal, we will work with the voluntary sector and faith groups to support them. In rare cases when even this is not possible, we would provide a paid carer.

"We will be looking at each of the people who currently use this service and individually assess their needs and work with the voluntary and charity sectors as well as faith groups to help where necessary.

"Where users do not have a microwave, we would put them in touch with retailers, charities or voluntary groups who would help them source one using their own or charitable funds.

"For users who are housebound, we would support them to buy their own meals either online or over the phone.

"In cases where current users are unable to manage meal times themselves at all, they will already have a care worker who will support them."

The service is delivered by catering company Sodexo, which writes on its website: "Our drivers do more than just deliver meals, they provide a friendly and professional service and are trained to look out for any changes to the physical or mental wellbeing of customers."

More to follow on the budget announcement soon.