Thursday, 1 October 2015

A call for a public inquiry into Shropshire Council's Adult Services

A recent Guardian article reported in very positive terms on reorganised social services in Shropshire and pointed the way forward, for other local authorities, to adopt similar methods and structures.

It is unfortunate that contrary to Shropshire Council's ameliorating assertions on the subject of Adult Social Care in the County, the adverse impact of local cuts, on people who depend on local services due to their age, vulnerability, illness or disability has been significant and much less positive.

In addition to a program of day centre closures, there have been large-scale staff redundancies  which have had an adverse affect on the lives of many people. The abolition of 'case-loads' has meant that unless people formally complain about an issue, there is virtually no day-to-day contact between social workers and some extremely disabled and vulnerable people.

Intervals of eighteen months between case reviews are not uncommon.

There has been a high profile Court of Appeal case about the lack of consultation on a day centre closure that found against Shropshire Council. Subsequently the Local Ombudsman took the unprecedented step of taking a page in the local newspaper to publish a decision on financial compensation to a local family, that was judged to have suffered hardship and which Shropshire Council had refused to comply with.

If the turmoil that has taken place over the last four years had achieved financial stability then it could be argued that the changes were justified, however the most recent Cabinet Monitor Revenue report (29th July 2015) detailed an overspend in the current year of £3,937,000. {£70,410,000 - £74,347,000}.placing Adult Services in the Council's own Red Category "Red – Savings are not solved on an ongoing basis, nor have they been achieved in the current financial year"

Net expenditure on Adult Care has risen from £59.4 million in 2011/12 to £74.3 million currently. Over that period, the proportion of the Council's net expenditure devoted to Adult Care has risen from 26% to 33% enough to accommodate inflation and demographic pressures.

Yet there have been significant job losses and adverse service changes. Rather than advocating other authorities adopt similar practices what is required is a public inquiry into what is going wrong. A society is judged by the way it treats its most vulnerable citizens, therefore I ask that the situation in Shropshire is addressed urgently. 

It has never been more vital that Shropshire Council listens to the people who they represent.



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Shropshire Cares Campaign