Criticism voiced of cuts to adult social care after Peterborough City Council approves its budget plans:
Some of the most vulnerable people in Peterborough will be hit hardest by hefty public spending cuts, critics have warned.
Members of Peterborough City Council have given the green light to much debated plans to save £350,000 next year and £500,000 in future years by changing the criteria on which adults are eligible for care.
It means those with needs classed as so-called ‘high moderate’ – that is, below critical or substantial – will no longer receive support from the council.
It has prompted concern for the estimated 300 people currently classed as high moderate by the authority.
Amanda Preston, learning disability group advocacy support worker at the Peterborough Council for Voluntary Service (PCVS), said: “I think people will be put at risk. I don’t think the councillors fully appreciate the level of need that people with learning disabilities have and who they are cutting out of social care.”
Ms Preston said she feared for the wellbeing of adults classed as high moderate in the wake of the cuts as the recipients rely on council-paid support to complete everyday tasks.
She said: “It’s the essential stuff: paying your bills, buying your food, keeping your house hygienic, keeping yourself healthy, keeping yourself safe.”
She added: “I think it will possibly come to a crisis situation.”
PCVS co-ordinates a group called The Network Team to offer support for adults with learning disabilities.
Among its members are Marie Elliot (48), from Fletton, and Sharon Smith (44), from Stanground, both of whom are classed as having high moderate needs, live independently, but receive support for specialist workers.
Miss Elliot said she was “upset” by the council’s decision.
She said: “I feel it’s not fair.”
Miss Smith said: “I’m not very happy because I can’t go without the carers.”
Through such support, Miss Smith is able to work at The Kingfisher Centre, in The Cresset, Bretton, one day a week.
She said: “I don’t want to lose my job and I don’t want to lose my pay.”
She added: “I would miss my job. I like to do my job because I need to get paid because if I don’t get paid I won’t get any money.”
The change in eligibility criteria may also affect such charities as Goldhay Arts, which provides arts-based day care for adults with disabilities at The Cresset.
Assistant service manager Lynn Whitfield said 16 of its 34 clients were classed as high moderate.
She also spoke out against the cuts.
She said: “I think they are cutting benefits or funding from those who are the most vulnerable in Peterborough who will be at a loss to know how to cope otherwise.”
She spoke of the value of Goldhay Arts, not just in providing a creative outlet for adults with learning disabilities, but for their loved ones.
She said: “The parents are getting older and are not able to cope with them 24-seven. For them to be able to come here is respite for the families.”
She said the charity hopes to continue following the change to eligibility criteria, but acknowledged it would facing a funding dilemma.
She said: “We are a charity, but we have to pay our staff. We would have to see how it goes and how many people we lose.”
The council has stressed, however, no one classed as high moderate will lose their support until their needs have been reassessed. This will take place at their annual review.
Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald, cabinet member for adult social care, said: “There maybe about 300 currently assessed as high moderate. Not all of those people will no longer qualify, some of them will be assessed as substantial and critical.”
He added steps were being taken to mitigate the impact of the change to the eligibility criteria, including investment in preventative options to support people to remain active and independent for as long as possible.
He added: “It’s a question of difficult choices having to be made. We do have to live within our means. People who took part in the consultation process themselves said – overwhelmingly, more than 70 per cent –- the council was right to target their resources to the most in need.
“People recognise we can’t be everything to all men.”
He added people can be reassessed at any time if they found themselves unable to cope and if the need exceeded the amount of money earmarked for support, funds would have to be found elsewhere in the budget.