Further Somerset County Council budget cuts meeting at Somerset College (From Somerset County Gazette)
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Further Somerset County Council budget cuts meeting at Somerset College
THE impact of the cuts to the people of Somerset will be discussed this morning (January 31) at a second scrutiny meeting.
Tuesday’s meeting concentrated on policies with infrastructure and places but issues surrounding children’s centres, home care, sheltered housing services and mental health, and their effects on individuals will be discussed tomorrow.
In the proposals as part of Somerset County Council’s medium-term financial plan, they plan to cut £3.6million over the next three years from home care, residential care and nursing care.
About half the 3,800 households supported by Somerset County Council in sheltered housing could lose out under plans to save £500,000.
The authority is looking at pulling assistance for people with “lower and medium support needs” and only keeping the most vulnerable on its books as it cuts the current £1.5million budget.
Funding will no longer be directed at anyone who is “very independent and requires little or no support or care” as the council concentrates on “people with higher level support needs”.
Sheltered housing consists of two elements – accommodation equipped with an interactive alarm system and support in the form of welfare checks and sometimes basic household chores.
Fears have been expressed that people who lose out could be “adversely affected” – in a survey of service users, there were claims it could lead to a loss of independence, people being “totally abandoned” and vulnerable people being “more isolated”.
The council says the change will give people an improvement in the range of choices available to them, enabling increased independence.
The Adult and Health commissioning budget is set to be slashed by 57% over a two-year period while housing-related support services are also planned to be cut by 58% with the council saying it will develop a more efficient service to be introduced.
As part of the cuts, around 100 jobs will be lost as the council says it needs fewer support staff to provide the range of finance, legal, governance and performance roles and functions.
The job losses will save the council around £2.5million over a four-year period and they stress that people who currently use services ‘should not be affected’.
The proposals are being discussed by the scrutiny committee tomorrow (Friday) before going to full council.
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