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