£19m council cuts could hit Derby’s most vulnerable

VULNERABLE people who receive subsidised council care to help them stay at home could suffer as the city plans to save £18.9 million next year – and millions more over the coming four.

A day centre could be closed and the future of the seven Derby care homes is being reviewed.

The extent of the cuts being considered has emerged after a document detailing the proposals – prepared in advance of the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review on October 20 – was leaked to the Telegraph.

Council leader Harvey Jennings admitted that his administration was having to look hard and deep to cope predicted budget cuts of up to 30 per cent.
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“It would be negligent of us not to review every aspect of the operation of the authority to ensure we are delivering value for money and a service people want and deserve,” he said.

“Some of the things in these leaked papers may well be third or fourth-year savings proposals and that is the key word – they are proposals.

“These are not things set in stone. They are things that are being considered to see if the way services are provided can be changed to deliver something better or in a different way.”

Mr Jennings confirmed that one area being considered was reducing the number of elderly and disabled people eligible to receive subsidised care at home.

Currently, residents who are assessed as being at moderate, substantial or critical risk of losing their independence without support receive help for tasks such as cooking meals, getting out of bed or getting dressed.

But the leaked proposals suggest this service could be cut for those with moderate needs – saving £1 million a year – and potentially those with substantial – saving £1.75 million. Then only those classed as “critical” would receive the council’s help.

Mr Jennings said it was unlikely the criteria would be raised to critical only.

The confidential report does not say how many people currently qualify for home care in each category or what contributions individuals are expected to pay – but it is believed hundreds could be affected.

The Tory council leader also confirmed that a day care centre could be closed.

The leaked papers suggest closing Morleston Street Day Care Centre and Whittaker Road Day Care Centre and replacing them with rented buildings. Mr Jennings said one, bit not both, could be shut.

The document also reveals that the future of the city’s public toilets is also under review – although it is unclear whether that would involve closures or the introduction of charging.

Mr Jennings confirmed that blue-bag recycling collections could disappear, with people instead asked to place newspapers in with their other dry waste in blue bins, saving about £200,000 a year.

The budget for outdoor events, such as the hugely popular Derby Feste, could be reduced or charges introduced.

The report also details further proposals which Mr Jennings says have already been discounted – among them the possible closure of Pickford’s House and the Guildhall.

An earlier suggestion, now discounted, had been to close Moorways and Queens leisure centres in advance of replacement facilities being provided as part of £50 million leisure plans.

Another proposal is the privatisation of the bin service. The service not only collects domestic rubbish but also trade waste.

Mr Jennings said there were no plans to privatise domestic collections, but trade waste could be reviewed.

Labour group leader Paul Bayliss said the leak showed the severity of the planned cuts.

“I think this demonstrates the depth to which these cuts are going to bite and affect services which people have taken as core services and expect the council to deliver,” he said.

“In social care, people are going to be subjected to a higher level of charges for a lower level of services and people will not be happy.

“It will affect those people in desperate need of social care and they will be left more vulnerable and wanting by these Tory cuts.”

The council yesterday announced a further review of management posts.

That is despite top tiers already having been reorganised and the number of departments reduced as the council seeks to reduce its workforce by 750.