Vulnerable people in Lincolnshire without care cash

COST-CUTTING proposals could leave more than 750 vulnerable people without cash for their care. Lincolnshire County Council is planning to make people with “moderate needs” ineligible for care funding in a bid to save £4.6 million a year.

Officials say 3,096 people are classed as moderate, which is where they cannot care for themselves properly without help or specialist equipment.

Of these 1,509 will have to be reassessed, with predictions suggesting half of these people will lose their cash.

The other half are expected to be upgraded from moderate to substantial – the second highest level behind critical.

People who are only given special equipment will not be affected by the changes.

A council consultation found 88 per cent of people who responded were against the move.

Labour group leader Councillor Robert Parker said the proposed action was “scandalous”, bearing in mind the majority who responded to the consultation were not in favour of it.

The Lincoln West member said he remained unconvinced that the Big Society – family, friends, neighbours and voluntary groups – could provide a replacement service to cope with the people’s needs.

Mr Parker said: “You can’t get it any clearer. The council goes out to consultation to reduce the support for people with moderate needs, 88 per cent say it shouldn’t be withdrawn and the council is taking no notice.

“Consultation in Lincolnshire is becoming meaningless as the council takes no notice of it.”

The council’s adults scrutiny committee will discuss the idea next Wednesday, with the Conservative executive making a decision on Tuesday, October 4.

It is the latest example of the authority cutting back its adult social care responsibilities, following decisions to close council-owned care homes and consult on reducing in-house council services.

The authority says it will attempt to limit the impact on those who no longer qualify for financial support.

Councillor Graham Marsh, the council’s executive member for adult social care, said a growing elderly population meant a decreasing budget faced increasing pressures.

Up to £39 million has to be saved by adult social care by 2015.

Mr Marsh said: “We need to limit the number of people who receive funding, rather than spreading the money too thinly and seeing no one receive the quality level of service they need.

“The proposed change to our eligibility criteria will see Lincolnshire join almost 80 per cent of authorities nationwide in funding people with substantial needs and above – in fact some only fund those with critical needs.

“This will ensure our services are in place for the future to support and improve the lives of about 13,000 people.”

But opposition leader Councillor Marianne Overton said there could be greater cost for the authority by making this short-term saving.

The independent councillor said: “Moderate care sounds OK, but it means a person cannot carry out three essential personal care tasks.

“For example, they cannot get out of bed, go to the toilet and make their breakfast. People in that situation will receive no support from the council, even though they have no other income. They say they will provide alternatives, but Telecare is expensive.

“These are not people who are perfectly fine and want a little bit of help on Sundays.”

A Lincoln woman, who uses council services, also told the authority: “Without this support I would struggle to move to be more independent and would become more lonely and depressed as I could not afford to pay for services out of my benefits.

“This would make me more isolated.”

The council received 630 responses to its consultation.

Forty-six per cent suggested the criteria should be lowered to include all four care levels.