I'm generally uneasy about charities devoting their resources to politics but there is some merit in a project from Scope analysing the impact of Council spending cuts on services for the disabled. The think tank Demos undertook the project of mapping the cuts. You can look up each council and see whether the spending cuts in the area are relatively high or low. But also how well they have "coped" with the cuts. This measure judges each council purely by the service being delivered on the front line.
I am pleased to see that ny own council of Hammersmith and Fulham was judged to perform "well" in maintaining services despite being "high" in terms of the money.
We still feel some of their criticism are unfair. Our home care charge to service users will have gone up, as fees and charges go up every year in line with inflation, but this is a means tested charge and only about 100 people are actually liable to pay all their charges and most pay no charge at all. Because the charge cannot be more than the cost to us of the service and we have negotiated low prices with our providers, the charge to service users compares favourably with the charges in other boroughs.
The day care changes they refer to have nothing at all to do with budget reductions but by personal budgets and allowing choice over where the money should go. The changes were very much supported by the day centre users in the consultation. We have stopped using one building but only because the other buildings are better for service users and had spare capacity.
Thus far all our savings have been achieved through efficiencies. We have not cut services at all. We have cut our own social work numbers but as part of a drive to improve productivity. Service users will not be affected. The staff group also accepted the argument given the productivity figures.
There may well be other councils who feel the Scope/Demos report was unfair – in some cases it might have let councils off lightly. But what is welcome about the exercise is that is grasps the key point that spending cuts do not and should not necessarily result in proportionate cuts in services.