Care cuts could hit nearly 2,000 people
Aug 21 2010 by Barry Gibson, Huddersfield Daily Examiner
NEARLY 2,000 vulnerable people could lose their care support.
Calderdale Council is considering cutting its adult social care budget to cope with the public spending squeeze.
Vulnerable adults have been warned not to expect “five-star” care if the changes are introduced.
The council currently supports 5,057 people whose problems include visual or hearing impairment; drug or alcohol abuse; physical or learning disabilities; old age and dementia.
The vulnerable people’s needs are classed as either low, moderate, substantial or critical.
Calderdale is one of only two councils in the country which provides free or subsidised care to all four groups, including people judged to have low care needs.
Kirklees, Bradford, Leeds and Wakefield councils only provide help for people in the highest two bands – substantial and critical.
But Calderdale has drawn up a plan to reduce the number of people who qualify for support to help cope with the public spending squeeze.
The council expects to have to cut £50m from its budget by 2013-14.
Calderdale’s Adults, Health and Social Care Scrutiny Panel will meet at Halifax Town Hall on Wednesday at 6pm to discuss the cost-cutting plan.
Council officers have drawn up three options:
Leave care support as it is.
Remove support for people with low needs, saving the council £15,000 a year.
Remove support for people with low or moderate needs, saving the council £1.44m a year.
This final option would affect 1,780 residents, including 181 visually-impaired people, 50 people with dementia or another mental illness and 145 people with learning disabilities.
Support currently provided to these people includes home care, day care, personal alarms and special equipment to cope with sensory loss.
Calderdale officers have drawn-up a set of principles to guide councillors through the review.
The list includes: “We will aim to ensure that all services are at least good enough, but not necessarily five-star.”
Calderdale will consult carers on the plan in September and October, with any changes being introduced in April.
The council’s Cabinet member for adult social care Clr Bob Metcalfe promised yesterday to listen to carers.
He said: “We will consult widely and will make sure that the decision we come to ensures we can continue to provide good support to the most vulnerable people in Calderdale.”
But the council’s director of adult social care Jonathan Phillips warned that change was necessary.
He said: “Calderdale has supported people with low levels of need for many years and is one of only two councils in the country to have continued doing so.
“The impending budget cuts means the current situation will no longer be affordable and we need to look at alternatives.”