Thousands To Keep Care Packages After Council U-Turn

MORE than 6,500 vulnerable people who were at risk of losing thousands of pounds worth of council care have won a reprieve.

Age Concern welcomed Lancashire County Council’s u-turn over budget cuts which would have hit several thousands people in Burnley, Pendle, Rossendale, the Ribble Valley and Hyndburn.

Leaders of Lancashire County Council had planned to raise the criteria for helping the elderly and people with learning and physical disabilities to receive care service from moderate’ to substantial’.

advertisementBut the council says that a better than expected grant settlement from the government had meant they could scrap their controversial Fair Access to Care services review.

Their plans would have seen thousands of people who fell into the moderate’ banding would have been re-assessed and, if they did not meet the higher substantial criteria, lost their care funding.

Instead they would have been put in touch with voluntary groups, who would also deal with any new referrals who were not found to have substantial needs.

The extra Government cash means that people will not now miss out on assistance from home helps and care assistants.

County council chiefs say they are the only authority in the county still offering moderate’ levels of care. Blackburn with Darwen council has also raised its care threshold following a recent similar review.

The authority is also continuing work on care gateways’ intended to steer people needing assistance to alternative support services in the community, voluntary and faith sectors.

County councillor Chris Cheetham, cabinet member for adult and community services, said: “I am delighted, given the better than expected settlement from the Government and resources now available, we will not be forced to raise our eligibility criteria for adults receiving assessed social care services from the county council.

“The decision not to raise the care threshold should remove the worries about the impact of the re-assessment process on individual people.”

Geraldine Moore, chief officer of Age Concern Lancashire, added: “We did raise concerns about the potential loss of services for people with moderate difficulties.

“We recognised that if people with moderate needs did not get help initially then they could need more help later on down the line.

“Age Concern welcomes this commitment by the county council and hope to work with them to improve services for older people across East Lancashire.”

County council social services chiefs have also unveiled a major capital investment programme, totalling £11million, for learning disability and day care facilities.

An extension is planned for a learning disability centre in Gloucester Avenue, Accrington, costing £108,000, and a similar facility in Croasdale Avenue, Clitheroe, will benefit from building work totalling £87,000.

Day care centres across the five boroughs will also share in a £1million investment package and £150,000 of improvements to social services bases.

The plans, part of a £316million budget, look set to be ratified by the county council’s executive on Valentine’s Day.