County council budget cuts mean services for elderly people likely to disappear

An in-depth piece by the Lancashire Telegraph on my concerns about the impact of Lancashire County Council cuts on the elderly.

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FEARS have been raised the wellbeing of elderly and vulnerable people across the county following a proposal which could cut their home improvement funding.

Part of Lancashire County Council’s budget cuts proposed on December 3 involve cutting the £880,000 funding they currently have for Home Improvement Agencies (HIAs). HIAs help older people and people living with disabilities to adapt their homes so that they can live independently.

Rossendale Borough Council leader, Alyson Barnes, said that if these cuts are approved, the organisations that provide these vital services are likely to disappear. In a letter to Lancashire County Council, Cllr Barnes highlighted her concerns, saying the home improvement services delivered in Rossendale, particularly by housing group, Mosscare St Vincent’s, provide a valuable and necessary service which builds confidence and resilience and enables people to remain independent in their own homes for longer.

She said: “These cuts would have a detrimental impact on vulnerable people across the borough, and with an ageing population both in Rossendale and across the county this has to be a real concern. The potential additional pressure on the NHS and LCC Social Care would far outweigh the £880,000 saving being proposed.

The December proposal implies that the funding gap could be plugged through a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG). But while we want to remain as flexible as possible with our DFG and would be happy to look at this, we are also bound by national guidance and policy on the spending of DFG.”

Labour’s deputy for adult social care at LCC, Cllr, Jean Parr, echoed Cllr Barnes’ concerns, stating that the proposals will mean many elderly and vulnerable people would have to leave their homes, resulting in increased admissions to the NHS and residential homes. Cllr Parr said: “Family and friends can only do so much, but they will be forcing vulnerable people to seek help from over-stretched charities and volunteers to maintain their homes.”

Cllr Parr also said that the proposals could mean cutting the number of care staff available for vulnerable people, making work carried out by the staff (including using hoists and mechanical equipment) dangerous and difficult. She said: “The council have claimed that ‘people will have a better experience of care because it will be more personalised and dignified’ when they cut the number of care staff. But there is absolutely no evidence to support such a claim. We have written to the chief executive to provide us with the evidenced based research that cutting care staff benefits those in need but have received no response.

The fact of the matter is, it will cause fear and anxiety, creating tension between the cared for and the carer. This is totally against what the Government has been claiming in keeping people at home is better for the individual and the NHS.”

The cuts were initially agreed at LCC’s cabinet meeting on December 3, however, the decision will need to be formally agreed at a full council meeting on February 14.

 

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