MP Alan Whitehead Weighs Into Row Over Care Contracts

AN MP has demanded assurances from Southampton City Council over sweeping changes to home care contracts, starting today. As revealed by the Daily Echo, as many as 1,200 elderly and disabled residents in Southampton face the daunting prospect of having new carers coming into their lives this week. Some have already changed.

Under this radical shake-up, the number of companies paid by the city council to provide “domiciliary” care services is being reduced from about 19 to five. Four of the five will be new to the city.

Yet it is uncertain how many carers have transferred to the new companies and how many will keep their clients as the city has been carved up into seven new zones in which the companies will operate.

Labour Test MP Alan Whitehead said: “When the council first proposed these changes it pledged that most residents would be able to keep their current carer.

“I have since been contacted by a number of constituents who will lose their carer under the new system.

“I have already held an urgent meeting with officers about one such case, but we still need clarification on how the system will work for everyone else.”

Mr Whitehead added: “I want the council to be absolutely clear that no-one currently receiving domiciliary care will be worse off under the new contracts.”

Confusing The council has also so far failed to reveal exactly how much it expected to save from the new four-year contracts.

Residents can choose to buy their own care but many find the system confusing – only around 330 do so in the city.

They may have to top up the £9.41 hourly rate they get to spend if they wanted to keep their existing carer.

Cabinet member for adult social care councillor Ivan White insisted the level of care residents will receive will not change.

“It’s a change of provider not a change of care packages,” he said.

He added: “Officers have been working to make sure the changeover is as smooth as possible.”

Cllr White said the changes would create a more efficient service.