Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Labour's Social Care Plans Could Cost Residents Dear

Reading Labour state in their local election manifesto that they would reverse our plans to introduce charges for people who could afford to pay for day care services.

They also say they would suspend our reforms and launch a full review of the service.

These pre-election pledges are both costly and risky.

I have already demolished Labour's arguments against day care charges (which compare very favourably to those charged by neighbouring councils and the private sector) but I thought it was worth explaining what Labour's ill-thought out plans actually mean to the Council's budget, local services and taxpayers in Reading.

In March the Council agreed plans I had been developing with officers over a period of months to transform community care so that was fair to all and sustainable in the long term.

They are designed to ensure that vulnerable people who need services get them at a time when the number of people needing social care is increasing due to an ageing population.

This decision has wider ramifcations which are now being felt across the Council.

Our reforms to adult social care mean that taxpayers will avoid £3.8 million pounds worth of cost pressures linked to social care over the next three years.

  • Enabling the Council to increase funding to the voluntary sector - one of the few councils to do this
  • Enabling the Council increase support available to unpaid carers.
  • Helping the Council to keep vital services like libraries and leisure services open.
  • Helping to reduce the finanical burden on Council Taxpayers.

If after the election Labour failed to implement these plans immediately the cost to taxpayers would be £100,000 per month.

So we return to the question which services would Labour cut to pay for their pre-election promises?

To which Labour's manifesto fails to provide any answers.

Before the Council agreed our plans to transform community care services in March a full public consultation and equality impact assessment was carried out.
  • Over 20 individual consultation meetings were held.
  • Over 1,000 public comments were submitted.
And Labour's former Lead Member for Community Care Cllr Mike Orton commented that our plans would indeed protect the most vulnerable.

With just days to go before the local elections Labour now say they would rip up the consultation findings, the policies agreed in Council, and  at the Budget set in February in favour of a new review of the service.

This would cause huge disruption and concern to many vulnerable people and their carers who receive services from the Council just months after they were first consulted.

And why? Just so Labour could score a few political points.

Adult social care is too important to become a political football.

I have put the work in build a system that works for the future.

Labour councillors routinely ducked the tough choices but we haven't.

As I said in March:
'There is only one compassionate, sustainable and equitable option on the table this evening.

I urge members across this Council to support it"

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