Westminster council underspends adult care budget by £4.4m

Westminster has reduced home care hours for disabled residents.

Westminster city council has underspent its adult social care budget by £4.4m so far this financial year, according to a report on the council’s financial performance. The figure is part of a total underspend of £10.4m, which also includes a £0.8m underspend on children‘s services and £2.3m on housing.

Paul Dimoldenberg, leader of the Labour group on Westminster council, told the Guardian’s social care network that the “significant underspend” was a result of the Conservative-controlled council introducing cuts, which should have been phased in over two years, more quickly.

“The council is speeding up the cuts and that is having an impact on the quality of care that the council is offering,” he said.

The Labour group has highlighted the case of 49-year old Mary Garland, as reported by the Ham and High newspaper. Garland’s home care hours were reduced from 19 per week to 10.5 hours after Westminster council changed its eligibility criteria.

According to the paper, Garland, who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease, said she asked her social care manager how there would be time for her home carer to help her properly. She said the manager recommended she would be “better off cutting her hair”, as this would save the carer time.

Dimoldenberg said: “Westminster Conservatives are acting in the most hard-hearted and mean-spirited way by making even bigger cuts than agreed by the council and piling on the price increases on items that the poorest residents cannot do without.”

The Conservative-controlled council’s executive director of adult social care, Andrew Webster, said: “Westminster has overachieved in its saving targets this year to compensate for the tough savings of £16m that we need to attain by 2013-14.

“The council is working hard to make improvements to adults services to ensure we meet the needs of our most vulnerable residents whilst providing taxpayers the best possible value for money.”

Webster also said that Westminster has created four new “community hubs” for older people and will be opening a new dementia centre to provide care facilities for residents and family carers.

According to Dimoldenberg, the Labour group has been successful in reversing a council decision, taken in August 2011, to cut the Taxicard service – which provides subsidised transport for people with serious mobility or visual impairments – by making it available only to people in receipt of benefits.

The group found that 50 blind residents had been refused a Taxicard because they did not claim benefits, and Westminster has now reviewed its policies and agreed to give Taxicards to all registered blind residents.

Rachael Robathan, Westminster cabinet member for adults, said: “We recognise that this is an important service for our residents. The changes we are making will ensure that all of those in greatest need of the Taxicard scheme will continue to get the benefits that it offers.”

This article is published by Guardian Professional. Join the Guardian social care network to receive regular emails for social workers and social care professionals.


One Response to Westminster council underspends adult care budget by £4.4m

  1. Gamias says:

    How proud i am to read about Gus and Vince. They to are a great part of my life as i also worked with them both for a long peirod of time. You are both very special people.cheers Trish.

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