Anger At Adult Care Review Plans

Plans to change the way disabled and elderly people in Lancashire are cared for has prompted angry criticism. The county council wants more voluntary and community groups to support people with lower level social care needs.

More than £381m is spent on providing social care every year and the council said it needed to target the money at those who need it most. But opponents described the plan as “scandalous” and have expressed doubt that local groups can fill the gap.

The review of adult social care services follows a council investigation which found it was “urgently needed”. The report concluded that the majority of people with lower-level needs could be better supported by local organisations and community groups. It would mean referring people to a local network of organisations which run community services.

Chris Cheetham, whose department is responsible for the report, argued that it would mean giving many people a greater sense of independence. “Many people with disabilities and older people, in particular, tell us they do not want to be dependent on social services – they don’t want to be put into a care home or be institutionalised unnecessarily,” he said.

“We must therefore give people choice, opportunities and information to access community services and practical support to help them retain their independence and sustain a high quality of life.”

George Ronald, chairman of the North West Lancashire Physical Disability Partnership Board, described the planned changes as “scandalous”. He said voluntary groups could not fill in for social services, adding: “There are not enough facilities locally. At the same time they are asking the voluntary sector to help…they are actually starting to charge them for using their mini-buses and things. So it’s like we’re the very, very junior part of Lancashire County Council – it is not equal.”

A public consultation is currently taking place and will close on 31 August.