Union condemns county adult care reform

Plans to outsource adult care services by Lincolnshire County Council, putting some 285 jobs at risk, are condemned by public service trade union UNISON.

The County Council is already implementing cuts across services which will result in a workforce reduction of about 1,200 people (or 20%) compared with 12 months ago.

The County Council released proposals last week to cut its care services across Lincolnshire, including Swallow Lodge in Lincoln and Cedar House in Spalding along with day services and supported living facilities across the county.

UNISON spokesman, Gavyn Graham, criticised the council for using the reasoning of providing more personal choice as an excuse to axe the services.

Graham said: “We are seeing the same process we saw over plans to close council care homes, where service users’ wishes to keep the homes open were ignored.”

The union says the council posted letters to the staff on Friday afternoon to tell them their jobs would be put at risk:

“We have had numerous arguments about letters like these going out on a Friday,” said Graham.

“This time, because of the bank holiday, it will be three days before our members can talk to their union and their managers.

“This just shows the contempt that the council has for its own employees.”

The adult care services reform report will go to the council’s Executive Committee on September 5 with staff and service users invited to consultations.

76 service providers expressed an interest in covering a suggested menu of care put together in view of outsourcing the provision of care and providing personal budgets.

Leader of the Independent Opposition, Marianne Overton, says the national government strategy to put all adult care users on personal budgets by April 2013 is a further dismantling of local government.

“The opportunities for individuals to spend the money in different ways is attractive as long as there is still enough to get basic care covered, outsourcing and then cutting the funding is a familiar pattern of this government,” said Overton.

95% of private care services were rated as Excellent or Good in a recent Quality Care Commission assessment and the council claim a recent survey of 97% of people already on a Personal Budget in Lincolnshire said they were completely satisfied with the change and new system.

Chief Executive of Lincolnshire County Council, Tony McArdle, confessed despite having no firm proposals it would be dishonest not to foresee changes to a number of staff’s employment status.

McArdle said: “As people move on to personal budgets, our current model of bulk-buying services means we’re effectively double-funding and paying for services that people don’t want. We need to spend taxpayers’ money better and more equitably.”

Bill Aron, Shadow Portfolio Holder for Adult Services, was impressed that clients involved in pilots of personalised budgets enjoyed them but is still speculative about services being provided as well.

Aron said: “With further cutbacks rolling out across the county, will cheques and balances still be adequate?”