SHELTERED housing across Bournemouth and Poole is being ‘redesignated’ for general use, despite a rise in the number of vulnerable tenants requiring council housing.

Concerns have been raised that the policy could reduce the amount of supported accommodation available for elderly people.

However, Bournemouth council’s head of housing, Lorraine Mealings, said that there no longer much demand for sheltered housing which is often mostly made-up of bedsits.

The issue was raised during discussions at Thursday’s meeting of the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole shadow authority’s scrutiny committee during a discussion on the council’s proposed housing budget.

A report to the committee said that ensuring the council’s housing stock met demand was “vital” and a “key priority” for councils.

As part of this, they have been redesignating sheltered accommodation to more general uses, despite admitting that the proportion of vulnerable tenants needing housing was rising.

Cllr Mike Brooke said it was important that councils were able to provide accommodation to meet the needs of older people.

He said that the elderly often struggled with the lifestyles of younger neighbours with many being forced to move home as a result.

However, Bournemouth council’s head of housing, Lorraine Mealings, said that demand for sheltered accommodation had fallen.

“The configuration of our sheltered accommodation is mostly bedsits which is not really the type of housing people want these days,” she said.

“This isn’t something unique to us, other councils are seeing the same trend where demand is just not very high.”

She said that older people were more often moving into other forms of supported housing rather than into more traditional sheltered units run by councils.

Ms Mealings added that any decision to redesignate sheltered housing to general use was managed “very, very sensitively” and that the councils take into account the individual circumstances of each tenant.