PRESS RELEASE Wednesday 6th January 2016
SPECTRUM Centre for Independent Living is extremely concerned to learn that Southampton City Council is proposing to cap social care support provided to local Disabled People and Older People with the highest support needs and – unless they can make up the difference from their own money – force them to leave their homes and families and move into residential care.
We are aware that the Council faces significant pressures on its finances and has to make difficult decisions. However this should not be at the expense of people’s right to live independently in the community and their right to family life. This is the most Dickensian social care policy we have ever seen.
SPECTRUM is strongly opposed to the proposal, which we believe is both extremely unfair and fundamentally flawed for three main reasons.
1. Southampton City Council claims that a cap is fair because people with the highest support needs take up “a disproportionate amount of its Adult Social Care budget”. This is simply not true. The amount of support people get is proportionate to their needs as determined by the Council’s own assessments – no more, no less.
2. The Council claims that the proposal will enable it to meet its obligations under the Care Act 2014 but this directly contravenes the Government’s Statutory Care Act Guidance, which specifically prohibits the setting of any arbitrary cap on care costs.
3. The Council’s belief that it is possible to find residential care at lower costs for people with complex support needs is quite simply a fairy tale. There are nowhere near enough suitable placements in the current care market and, any that do claim to be able to meet such needs for under £500 a week cannot possibly do so in a safe environment.
We strongly believe that there are better, and more cost-effective, options available. In particular, we believe that the Council should be making every effort to offer more people the option of having a Direct Payment so that they can chose their own support. This will often cost significantly less than the agency and specialist care the Council currently commissions so would achieve the required cost savings while maintaining, or even enhancing, the quality of support people receive.
SPECTRUM is in discussions with Southampton City Council and are urging them to consider the alternative solutions we are proposing, and to work with us and other interested parties to ensure that the life and liberty of local people with high support needs is protected.
This proposal is currently under public consultation until 14th January 2016 and we urge people to make their views heard. The consultation can be found at https://www.southampton.gov.uk/council-democracy/have-your-say/budget-2016-2017/default.aspx