Lifeline service users may have to pay in the future

By Ian Dipple Friday 31 January 2014 Updated: 02/02 22:26

ELDERLY and vulnerable users of a vital monitoring service may be forced to pay in future or lose it altogether due to the impact of county council cuts.

Redditch Borough Council currently provides its lifeline service for 2,657 people - 1,129 of which are classed as the most vulnerable and receive it for free through £202,000 of Supporting People Money from Worcestershire County Council.

But as part of £32million of cuts to the adult care budget over the next three years, the funding is set to be withdrawn from June. Those residents assessed as in highest need will be given a personal budget to buy the service themselves if they wish, while others will simply stop receiving it or could face being charged.

The potential scenario was one of a number of implications for Redditch Borough Council if Worcestershire County Council ploughs ahead with the cuts, outlined at a recent executive committee meeting.

Elderly residents in supported accommodation in St David’s House in Batchley could also be affected by the cuts as the borough council may be faced with downgrading the service from having staff available 24/7 to work through the night and provide assistance, to a sleep in service where staff would only respond when the call alarm was pressed.

Prevention work with children and troubled families is also likely to be hit as there will be a cut of almost £370,000 over three years to the Early Help contract, which will impact on Redditch Children’s Centres.

There are also concerns about a rise in youth homelessness as the proposal to cut supporting people funding in half could leave charities which provide supported accommodation to young people unable to provide the service and legally the council is not able to offer a home to anyone under 18.

Officers also warn reducing money for domestic abuse and support for offenders could result in a rise in anti-social behaviour, burglary, re-offending and violence while cutting bus services is likely to lead to a rise in demand for Dial-a-Ride service which could leave it stretched.

There are also implications for the borough council’s finances as it already has a budget gap of over £350,000 even without factoring in the impact of the county’s cuts.

Deputy borough council leader Greg Chance said the worst thing about the cuts was they would not save money just move the costs onto other organisations.

“If you spend some money investing in people you will get that money back socially and financially, they are not a burden,” he

said.

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