Stark warning over care future

By Connie Osborne Friday 27 December 2013 Updated: 27/12 10:05

PEOPLE will die if funding for adult social care is slashed, a councillor has warned.

Coun Andy Fry, who represents Arrow Valley West in Redditch, claimed the proposals would allow older people to slip through holes in the safety net.

As the Standard previously reported, funding for housing support, Wellchecks, mobile assessments for aids and adaptations as well as money for community mentoring will all be axed in a bid to save Worcestershire County Council at least £32million over the next three years.

If approved, it would see the budget drop from £15 million to just £6.5 million with some of these services which the council is not legally obliged to provide replaced with reliance on the voluntary sector and the internet to provide support.

“Since the new town Redditch has been filled with nuclear families with their support networks a long way away,” Coun Fry told a meeting of the council’s adult care and well being overview and scrutiny panel meeting last Thursday (December 19).

“I think you’re opening up people to risk. Worcestershire is a very diverse county, lots of people either have no community or a really strong community. I’m concerned there wont be the volunteers to pick up the slack.

“I believe these cut backs will end up with people dying. We need to stop this from happening because I’m fearful people are going to fall through the holes in the safety net.”

John Witherspoon, from the Worcestershire Partnership of Older People’s Forums for Redditch, added there were still many people who did not have access to the internet, while older people who wanted to volunteer their time were having to look after grandchildren.

“Young people cannot afford to care or find decent care for their children and older people are looking after their grandchildren more and more. So we are losing the very volunteers we need to look after our county.”

But Dr Frances Howie, head of health and well being for the council, said she understood it was difficult for some people to access the internet but they would make sure people would not be excluded, including placing a computer at GP surgeries.

Dr Richard Harling, director of public health and adult services for the council, added many local authorities including Nottingham and Leicester were taking away more money from the service.

“The services we did offer were nice things to do. There is no council across the country who isn’t doing what we are having to do now and going through the same motions. Everyone is the same position.

“We knew we would eventually have to make cuts to the service, so it’s about finding that balance, and budgeting equally.”

Residents are invited to consultation sessions about the proposals which will run on Monday, Januar y 13, from 10am until 11.30am, 12 until 1.30pm and 2pm until 3.30pm in Committee Room 3, at Redditch Town Hall.

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