VOLUNTARY groups in Bexley are to receive nearly £1m to help elderly and disabled people get the help they need to stay in their homes.

The groups will use the cash to new services to help those who do not qualify for council help, remain independent.

Bexley Council has recently reassessed all the elderly and disabled people who qualified for home care and other council assistance, after raising its qualification standard from moderate, to substantial needs.

This meant many people lost the help they relied on to live their daily lives.

Now, organisations such as Age Concern, Bexley Alzheimer’s Society and Carers’ Support Bexley, will be paid by the council to set up “preventative” services aimed at keeping people healthier and leading independent lives.

Age Concern Bexley will run a “brokerage” service which older people not eligible for council care, can use to find services they need, such as day centre places or chiropody.

People will get a 30-minute free consultation with the service but will pay for any extra help.

And they will have to pay for any services they want.

But Bexley will continue to make sure people are receiving all the benefits they are entitled to.

So far, it has managed to identify £3m previously unclaimed.

Inspire Community Trust, in Slade Green, is setting up an online service, The Portal.

People who chose direct payments for their care needs, and those who have individual care budgets, can use to The Portal buy the care they want.

Inspire will also run a brokerage service aimed at younger people, to help those needing assistance to buy their care .

Elaine Green, head of voluntary sector commissioning, said: “We want The Portal to be a local centre for information from local groups and private services, with links to other groups.”

Mark Charters, director of social and community services, added: ”We are trying to create an online service where people can find everything available, including statutory care.”

Inspire will also provide rooms at its Whitehall Lane centre, where people needing specialist equipment, can try it out and buy at not-for-profit prices.

Vinod Kumar, Inspire’s chief executive, said people without computers could access The Portal through its brokerage service.

Funding starts on July 1, but on June 17 all the new services will be showcased at a special event at Danson Youth Centre in Brampton Road, Bexleyheath, from 1pm to 3.30pm, where all the groups funded by the new cash, the council and other organisations, will display their services to the public.