Plans by Labour councillors to cut £17million of the borough’s services for elderly and young people have been condemned as an attack on the most vulnerable.
The cuts are part of the Council’s budget proposals for 2015-2016 and make up 10% of the overall Children & Adult Services Department’s spending. Children’s social care will be hit by £5.385million and Adult social care by £8.364million.
Although the cuts have been labelled ‘proposed efficiencies and improved use of resources’ they form 65% of the administration’s proposed savings for the year ahead and include:
- reducing learning disability placements - saving £2.6million
- reduced expenditure on residential care home beds – saving £700,000
- reducing placement and supported living costs for adults with physical disabilities – saving £400,000
- reducing residential placements for children – saving £1million
Southwark Liberal Democrat councillors have criticised the Council’s plans for being too much and too fast, with little evidence base for their effectiveness or work into how they will impact on service users. They have also attacked the move to reduce spend on children’s care places when there are insufficient foster parents in place in the borough.
Liberal Democrat councillors tried to persuade Labour councillors to drop their proposed cuts to children in care at the council’s budget meeting last week. They also called on the Council to justify the rationale for the cuts, to confirm that users will not be forced into the new service models and to carry out an independent review into the impact of the cuts after a year. Labour councillors voted down the Liberal Democrat proposals.
Southwark Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Children’s Services, Councillor James Okosun, said:
“It is wrong that the Labour council is forcing most of its cuts on some of the most vulnerable people in our borough - the young and the old – who are often without a voice.
“Even worse, the Council seems to be bulldozing through these massive cuts without thinking about the possible impact on the people affected or whether they are achievable. These are huge changes in how services are delivered and the very least Labour councillors should be asking for is an independent review of these cuts.
“Liberal Democrats are fighting for young people in our borough to ensure opportunity for everyone. That’s why we wanted to put extra funding into Children’s Services to reverse Labour’s cuts.”
Councillor Maria Linforth-Hall, Southwark Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Adult Social Care said:
“It is a very sad day indeed when the Council just nods through such huge cuts to services for the borough’s elderly residents.
“The elderly and young people are bearing the brunt in Labour’s budget – all while the Council sits on massive amounts of money in its reserves.
“It’s hard to believe that Labour is forcing through these changes when it hasn’t asked a single older person yet what they think. It’s all about meeting Labour’s savings target, not better services for our elderly.”