Councillor hits out over home care budget savings

Home care concerns
Home care concerns

A Burntisland councillor says he still fears for vulnerable and elderly people after what he condemned as the “most draconian cut in home care service seen anywhere in Scotland.”

And Councillor George Kay says answers in response to a number of concerns he raised at a full meeting of Fife Council last month have still not been properly addressed.

Councillor Kay voiced his fears after a review on the home care service resulted in a reduction of the hours of home care to the elderly of a net 17 per cent.

He explained: “To the basic question of what safeguards had been put in place to ensure that the vulnerable and elderly would not suffer, as a consequence of the cuts, there was simply no answer.

“In addressing a further question, the meeting was told that £3 million had been cut from the service, but was expected to believe that that was achieved without any impact on the workforce.

“In a service which is labour intensive such a scenario is incredulous.

‘‘It is also difficult to believe that any assessment which was carried out in an independent manner would produce the “savings” which are needed to compensate for the mismanagement of the social work budget.

“One wonders if the ‘saving’ which was required was determined prior to the assessment and the assessment was arranged to produce that figure.

“Fife Council has just undertaken the most draconian cut in home care service seen anywhere in Scotland,” he said, adding that most elected councillors had been left in the dark.

At the meeting last month Councillor Linda Erskine, executive spokesman for finance and corportate services, said the annual workforce report for 2011/12 showed a budgeted reduction of 305 full time posts, with 281 home carers - giving a saving of £3 million.

She said there had been no compulsory redundancies and no cuts to staff hours as a result of the review of the home care packages, with some clients receiving more allocated hours if they needed them.

She added: “Prior to the introduction of new contracts in 2012, home carers were employed on rolling contracts which could be reduced on a weekly basis to a minimum contract of 20 hours.”

She also confirmed, in response to another question, that the Council would continue to provide a limited laundry service.