You may be aware that Buckden is lucky enough to have two sets of Almshouses in the village: South's Almshouses and the Burberry Homes. These are funded by The Almshouse Charities of James South and William Burberry and administered and managed by the trustees of the Buckden Parochial Charities. They are subject to the rules of the Charity Commissioners and the guidance of the Almshouse Association.
Almshouses exist to house people normally, but not always, of pensionable age, who have lived in, or who have connections with Buckden. Almshouses are not old people's homes and residents must be independent and able to care for themselves. Both South's Almshouses and Burberry Homes are charities that were endowed (created by a gift or legacy) by residents of Buckden. Some of these gifts were made several hundred years ago.
First an applicant must submit an application form, which asks questions about health, independence, financial status and Buckden residency. Details of financial status must be disclosed as a requirement of the Charity Commissioners. This can be done at any time. When a vacancy occurs all applications are assessed by the trustees, using certain criteria which include health, local residency or connection, financial status and any special circumstances. They may ask to visit an applicant at home to assess his/her ability to live independently, or ask the applicant to come for a short interview, after which accommodation will be offered to the most appropriate applicant. This may be either in South's Almshouses or the Burberry Homes, whichever is deemed by the trustees to be most suitable. The applications of unsuccessful applicants remain on file for future consideration with any new applications.
No; almshouses are not covered by the Rent Act. Residents pay a weekly maintenance contribution, which contains elements for heating, water and the upkeep of the property. This sum, which is usually less than an equivalent council rent, is subject to review and will generally be increased annually. Residents are liable for Council Tax and for the rental on a telephone line. Burberry residents also pay for their use of electricity (the Burberry Homes are heated by gas).
The warden, who works part time, looks after the property and oversees the well being of the residents. She does not provide physical care or services, though she will liaise with statutory and other services to ensure that residents receive the support they need. She is on hand in an emergency and residents will usually receive a daily visit. Other support is provided through the Lifeline provided for each resident.
(The photo shows South's Almshouses, a Grade II listed building, recently extended and upgraded)