Lincolnshire County Council set to consult on adult social care

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CHANGES to social care services could save money and give people more choices, according to a council.

CHANGES to social care services could save money and give people more choices, according to a council.

Lincolnshire County Council could cut as many as 285 jobs as it looks to reduce the care services it provides directly.

The council is looking to accelerate the move towards a personalised budget scheme. Care grants would be given to users and they would buy services instead of the council providing care for them.

This means they could pay charities or private care providers instead of using council services.

The Government wants all adult social care users to be on personal budgets by April 2013.

Councillors will decide tomorrow whether to consult people on pressing ahead with the move sooner in Lincolnshire.

The council currently bulk-buys services, meaning it sometimes pays for services that people do not need or use.

Executive member for adult social care and supporting people, Coun Graham Marsh (Con), said: “The national move towards personal budgets is accelerating even quicker than expected as people take advantage of the greater flexibility and options it brings.

“This means we need to urgently review how we deliver our own directly provided services, as they are becoming less cost-efficient.”

The proposals for consultation recommend that the council reviews the future of its supported living services, day care, 24-hour support and day services for people with learning and physical difficulties and the elderly.

Shadow portfolio holder for adult services, Coun Bill Aron (Ind), urged the council to make sure its own services were competitively priced.

He said: “I have looked at the pilots of some personalised budgets and was impressed that clients have enjoyed them, where money was adequate and the choices wide.

“However, with further cutbacks and rolling out across the county, will the checks and balances still be adequate and sustained, and will there be money to pay for that bureaucracy?

“Our own services should be more flexible and cost-effective so as to be the best choice for many people.”

Trade union Unison said the proposals could in fact take away users’ choice.

Spokesman Gavyn Graham said: “We are seeing the same process that we saw over plans to close the council’s care homes, where service users’ wishes to keep the homes open were ignored.

“Some of the most vulnerable people in the county will lose the services that currently support them.

“Hundreds of staff will be thrown onto the dole. And the economy of Lincolnshire will suffer, as the county’s largest employer shrinks yet further.”

The council said care staff who lose their jobs because of service changes would be supported if they decide to go into business themselves.

Rutland County Council has offered a personal budget scheme for two years.