Argyll and Bute Council hits back at criticism

Argyll and Bute Council has hit back at criticism over its funding allocation to care packages for the elderly. Councillor Dick Walsh, the Council’s Spokesperson for Social and Health Issues said, “This is a complex situation and the picture is constantly changing. The fact of the matter is that the budget to support Social Work, which comes from the Scottish Executive, is finite and we have to continually assess the priorities and strike a balance between competing demands on that budget which include child protection and mental health obligations as well as care for the elderly.

“Whilst it is true to say that the Scottish Executive has increased the Council’s allocation of funding for care packages, demand has continued to outstrip the money available.”

He continued, “Of course we recognise that there is a problem. Having to place people onto a priority list of clients for monitoring is not a situation that we are happy with or complacent about and we are working hard to resolve it. We have, for example, been working for over a year with our partners in the Executive’s Joint Improvement Team and more recently with the new health board for Argyll and Bute, NHS Highland, looking specifically at the issue of delayed discharge. We are currently in the process of undertaking a major review of our Social Work Service. We expect this to progress over the next three to four months, and have involved external consultants who will provide an objective perspective. “

Councillor Walsh added, “It is not at all helpful to compare us, as some people have done, with another council whose geography and population profile is so different from our own. The combination of our rural and island communities presents unique challenges in delivering services and this has to be taken into account. Having said that, we are certainly not the only council facing problems of this nature.”