18th Aug, 2019

Crisis in adult social care blamed for County Hall making staff redundant

THE crisis in adult social care has been blamed for Worcestershire County Council’s decision to make up to 200 members of staff redundant.

Two months ago the authority revealed it had a £17.9million hole in its finances, of which an estimated £15.6million was due to its overspend on adult social care.

“The spend on adult social care is taking a growing proportion of the budget, from 55 per cent to 69 per cent, and as every councillor knows it is squeezing all the other areas of the council,” said the authority’s Labour leader Coun Robin Lunn (Redditch North).

“Until central government addresses this issue the problem is just going to get worse.”

He added that once the £650million announced in the Budget for adult social care had been distributed around the country, Worcestershire should get enough to plug the current hole in its finances.

“But that’s all it will do, it won’t solve the issue,” said Coun Lunn, who blamed the Government’s fixation with Brexit for its failure to bring forward a Green Paper – or set of proposals – on how to deal with the matter.

“It was promised in the spring, then the summer, and then the Local Government Association lost patience and published their own proposals in September.

“The Chancellor did make reference to the issue in the Budget and talked about various options and hard choices.”

A motion before full council at County Hall next week calls for the authority’s Conservative administration ‘to bring forward a coherent plan as to how it

intends to deal with the growing demand for Adult Social Care services for the remainder of the term of this 2017-2021 County Council’ and requests that such a plan is discussed and debated in Council before the 2019 for the ideas of all councillors to be considered.

Council chiefs have asked staff who wish to be considered for redundancy to apply before November 12 with those accepted into the scheme leaving by the end of March.

A council spokesperson said: “A number of roles are exempt, including children’s social workers. It is expected up to 200 full time equivalent staff will leave the council as part of the scheme.”

Cost saving measures, including tighter recruitment controls, a review of all non-contracted spending, management of long term borrowing and spreading the cost of highways had reduced the projected overspend by more than £12.5million but more cutbacks are now needed.

Council bosses have already launched a 90 day consultation into the future of the county’s libraries following the green light by members of the cabinet earlier this month in a bid to cut an estimated £1million from its annual budget.

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