Southwark cash cuts provoke fears of reduced home care

HUNDREDS of people needing home care are facing upheaval under a council cost-cutting move.

Southwark council is cutting the top rate of £14 an hour it pays carers for the disabled and elderly.

From next month people who manage their own care will be given £11.70 an hour.

If their carers charge more they will have to find the extra money, cut their hours or find a cheaper option. Those who don’t manage their own budget will be given care from cheaper firms.

The changes follow the introduction of the council’s “personalisation budgets” scheme and its decision to give its care contracts to companies that charge less.

Janet Yatak, from Elephant & Castle, lives with her severely disabled husband, who receives 40 hours’ care a week from Southwark Disablement Association (SDA).

She does not want to switch to one of the cheaper council care providers but because the association charges more than £11.70 may have to cut her husband’s hours.

She said: “There’s going to be a lot of upheaval.

“We’re going on to personalisation budgets and we’re staying with SDA because Mr Yatak doesn’t want it to change.

“But it’s only going to buy 35 hours per week – that’s 20 hours less a month. It’s disgusting.”

Brenda Bond, Age Concern Southwark chief executive, said her charity could not afford to charge less then £14 an hour.

She said: “Most of these people have serious care needs. Cutting down their hours would mean that they can’t eat, or get out of bed, or go to the toilet.”

Those choosing to join the personal budget scheme will be assessed by the council as to how many hours care they need and given £11.70 an hour towards the cost. Those who do not want to organise their own care can continue to accept the carers provided by the council.

The town hall chooses its contractors on the basis of cost and quality.

Last year, the Labour-run town hall sacrificed a degree of quality to save £2.8million over three years.

Councillor Dora Dixon-Fyle, cabinet member for health and adult social care, said: “We’re trying to be as flexible as possible to allow as much choice where we can.

“For example, choice to stay with their current provider where possible, choice to negotiate with their new provider exactly what they want, and choice to opt for personal assistants instead of carers.

“I’m confident that we’ve managed to secure this level of flexibility, while at the same time we have not compromised one bit on the quality of care they offer.”