Adult and Communities service review – Neither a Green Paper nor a Dialogue

dec 5th draft B council house gradientThe problem confronting Sir Albert Bore is how to cut even deeper into social care services where he knows that pound by pound he will hurt the most vulnerable in our city. An existing £46m is being cut annually from the adult social care budget and from 2016-17 Bore wants to increase this total to £75m.

The Labour leadership has embarked on a series of fundamental service reviews across all the services run by the Council and is publishing the results as a series of Green Papers. The Adult and Communities Green Paper has now been published and the Council has embarked on a series of ‘Dialogue’ meetings with service users and carers over the summer to sound out these latest cut proposals.

Anyone who has read a Government Green paper will know it is a substantial document with detailed discussion of policy options. Apparently Sir Albert doesn’t want us to be bogged down in details, the specific proposals involving £29m worth of cuts consist of just half a page of a very short seven page paper.

Members of the pubic attending the dialogue meeting struggle to understand what is being proposed by the council, and most importantly what it means for the services they use and how it might affect their lives. But what Council officers have been told by service users at these meetings is how much the existing cuts are already adversely affecting their lives.

Carers, often elderly, have repeatedly complained about the increasing difficulty of accessing short breaks for the adult children they care for. Contacting social workers and the time involved in waiting for assessments and for care services was again a familiar concern. One carer complained about finding a home carer employed by a private home care company contracted by the Council asleep on his mothers sofa.

The proposals themselves involve yet more privatisation of care services where the Council will no longer directly provide any services and move to that of a commissioning authority only. Birmingham has closed and outsourced all its residential homes for adults in recent years, it is now proposing to ‘externalise’ its remaining specialist care services and to stop providing all respite care.

The Green Paper refers to a ‘demand management’ approach where it identifies the most expensive groups of service users requiring the most expensive care, referred to in the Green Paper as ‘high cost, high end care’, with the objective of reducing the costs of care for that group.

The Green Paper and ‘Dialogue’ meetings are an attempt to prepare the public for ‘bad news’ ahead of setting the Council budget for 2014-15, which will begin in earnest in the Autumn. The Green Papers are to be discussed at Council Ward Committees in August and September and it is important that people attend and raise their concerns.

Sir Albert Bore has told us that his raison d’être is ‘protecting the most vulnerable’, what he needs to told loud and clear and by as many people as possible that the cuts to adult social care are hurting not protecting the most vulnerable in Birmingham!

The Adult and Communities Green Paper can be found here:

http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/servicereviews

There is a discussion paper on making an alternative response to the Adult and Communities Green Paper see here:

http://communitiesagainstthecuts.com/2013/08/15/the-future-of-care-services-in-the-city-time-for-a-real-debate/

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5 Comments

Filed under Birmingham City Council

5 responses to “Adult and Communities service review – Neither a Green Paper nor a Dialogue

  1. I would like to make contact with as many Service users/Carers in receipt of Direct Payments or receiving a care service from the council as I intend taking the council to court regarding existing cuts in service via Direct Payments. It would have considerable impact if many people could join me in this objective because at the moment taking a low figure of 1000 people in Birmingham receiving a care package of 20 hours in 2006 equates to £37million in equal pay violation of community care legislation etc however I intend to hang my legal action on article 3 of the Human Rights Act 1998 but citing other articles and legislation.
    Join me please if you want to stand against Adults & Communities cutting our services even further. We have the power using the law and proceeding through the Courts to show the council who they work for and if neccessary bankrupt them …
    Jacqueline Robinson
    07543 990966// 0121 604 0417
    jae2702@hotmail.com

    • Karen

      that will be very helpful for all the vulnerable adults in our community. bankrupt the council? that will impact thousands of people! there has to be another way….

  2. Pingback: Birmingham Trades Council » Adult and Communities service review – Neither a Green Paper nor a Dialogue

  3. Comment by BA on the Green Paper:

    We should not accept that there is no alternative to an additional £46 million cut to the Adult and Communities budget in 2014/15. Which ,the Green Paper admits,will impact on everyone; but those impacted most will be the most vulnerable and disadvantaged.

    The Cabinet should be looking to savings in other areas;there are significant savings to be made by coming to grips with,what is acknowledged as a chaotic procurement and purchasing system.Instead of cutting front-line services, Labour should be dealing with the excesses of Service Birmingham and Capita; although I suspect that Bore sees Adults and Communities as an easier option.

    We should totally reject the key question presented in the Green Paper, the inference being that providing essential services to the City’s elderly,vulnerable and disabled is in someway unfair on everyone else and is undermining future economic prosperity.

    There are also concerns about the nature of the Green Paper dialogue meetings,particularly the small number of venues chosen and the short notice period.It does highlight the need to be vigilant when it comes to the Council’s formal Consultation process,which I believe is a legal requirement.

    The Green Paper is implying that there is a need for a major review of the way the City operates its Adult and Community Services; because of a shortfall in Central Government Grants to the Authority.I n fact,what is proposed is in line with ”the vision for future Service delivery” detailed in the Be Birmingham Wellbeing Strategy launched by the previous administration.This included creating a commissioning framework, self-sustaining communities developing networks of independent support, greater freedom of choice by giving service users individual budgets and increasing reliance on Private Care providers and the “Market”.

    When it comes to Adults and Communities, Labour are continuing with the same policies of the Tory/LibDem Coalition.

    Steve Bedsar acknowledged,at a Consultation meeting, held before the last Budget of 2012/13, that any further cuts to the Adults and Communities budget would result in B.C.C. being unable to fulfill its legal obligations for the provision of essential care to those assessed as in critical and substantive need.

    John Tomlinson,Joint Director of Commissioning for the Local Authority and NHS Trusts , explained to those present that:
    1. Adults and Communities had no policy criteria for assessing the suitability of Private Care Companies before allocating contracts and purchasing care provision from them,either directly or part of what they see has there Commissioning role.To the extent that there is no formal liaison between the Local Authority and the Care Quality Commission.
    2. Adults and Communities could give no assurances that care staff employed by Privately run Companies have accredited and up to date CRB documents.
    3. Adults and Communities cannot guarantee that all care staff, working for Private Care Companies, are trained to the same level of skills ,knowledge and capability has B.C.C. own staff working in Adults and Communities.

    We need to establish what are B.C.C. legal liabilities in the event that a Private Provider of Care ,or staff employed by them are deemed to be responsible for a gross failure to provide contractually agreed care and support,criminality and abusive treatment, serious harm or even the death of a service user.

    There must be real concern that,if implemented,the proposals in this Green Paper will undermine B.C.C. apparent priority and commitment to “Safeguarding”, and may even put B.C.C. in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

  4. Pingback: Birmingham City Council Adults And Communities Budget Consultations On Now | Birmingham Against The Cuts

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