Social care cuts “slow”

SHETLAND Islands Council’s community care department has been slow at achieving savings of £2 million because of the number of services under review, councillors heard on Wednesday.

SIC finance boss James Gray told members that alternative savings would have to be found to achieve the target set for this financial year.

Head of corporate services Christine Ferguson said the delays were because of a number of “saving targets”, such as the Freefield lunch club and the abolition of day care provision, were put on hold pending reviews.

She added that she was “encouraged” by the progress that had been made and that some of the planned savings should be achieved by the end of 2012/13.

Councillors agreed to gradually phase out the day care service offered in the islands’ care homes and to replace it with one offered by volunteers and community groups.

Around £370,000 in wages will be saved over the next six months as staff find other jobs within the department.

Members also approved plans to transfer the running of the popular Freefield lunch club to a social enterprise run by a number of voluntary organisations.

Interim director of social services Sally Shaw said she was confident that savings of £80,000 could be achieved, and that Freefield could become an “external provider” offering a range of other services to the community.