THE opposition leader on Fife Council has moved to remind the authority that its social work provision should not be “privatised on the cheap”.
Labour councillor, Alex Rowley, was responding to the latest in a line of press statements released by the council, stating that it expects cuts to be made across various services come February’s budget.
The council has said that it is preparing to have to make some “hard choices” when considering where to spend cash across its social work budget, claiming that a rise in the life expectancy level of Fifers may stretch resources.
Councillor Tim Brett, chair of the authority’s social work and health committee, said: “The most important thing for us is to ensure that we continue to maintain the high standards of social work services which are delivered in Fife.
“That these standards will continue is not in question.
“We must continue to target support to the most vulnerable people.
“In an ideal world we would not have to make such tough decisions.
“However, economic reality is far from ideal, and every area of public service has to prioritise the way money is spent.”
The council has already highlighted services such as education and transport as being among those which are likely to see budget reductions through a series of announcements made since late last year.
It has also previously attempted to pass over the running of its care homes to the private and voluntary sectors.
The Labour group leader, Cllr Rowley, said the council should be wary of simply moving the provision of its social work care at the best price.
He said: “We must acknowledge and accept that care in the community is not the cheap option and offering up service delivery to the cheapest bidder is simply not acceptable.
“Caring for the most vulnerable in our community cannot be left to market forces.
“Driving down the wages, the support and the training for staff in this sector is plain wrong and this practice must stop.”