Wrong turn in social care

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WEST Sussex County Council’s bluff and bluster response to publication last week of the Don’t Cut Us Out’s WSCC Dossier of Shame is, sadly, typical of its attempts to defend the indefensible.

On the one hand the council says there is no alternative to the £31m it is robbing from the disabled and elderly, then with the other, it callously salts this cash and more into its reserves - without a thought for the devastating affects these cuts in care support and closure of day centres are having on the most vulnerable within our society.

The council’s attempt to rubbish the campaign by saying we prefer to chase negative headlines instead of getting involved in joining with other organisations to help shape future provision is also wide of the mark.

The Don’t Cut Us Out (DCUO) campaign embraces a broad church of care organisations, charities, faith groups, carers and health officials who share a deep concern for the plight the vulnerable within West Sussex now face.

Many of those working with the campaign are in regular contact with the council and attend the West Sussex Learning Disability Partnership Board meetings which the council wish DCUO to engage with.

Yet this partnership has no voice when it comes to discussing overall policy, only an expectation on the part of the council that it should implement the cuts in care that it imposes. There is no opportunity to discuss alternative policies.

On two occasions when DCUO campaigners have met with council leaders and officials, we have been confronted with the same one-way dialogue.

At our first meeting in June 2011, we agreed to engage on ten points on which the council and campaign found common ground, yet ten months later, the council has still to follow up on any one of them. We met again in February when the campaign raised several key issues, but in the minutes taken by the council, not one of the campaign’s concerns were even noted.

The council’s assertion that the WSCC Dossier of Shame is a package of inaccurate, outdated and misleading claims from a mish mash of sources is equally surprising, for most of the information is taken directly from the council’s own website. To prove the point, we have republished the Dossier of Shame on www.dontcutusout.org.uk with links to all the sources.

Not long ago, West Sussex was held up as a national example for care within the community, but now it has one of the worst records among the 159 councils in England.

DCUO believes that care for the vulnerable should be the same nationwide and not the subject of a postcode lottery. Instead of defending the indefensible, West Sussex county councillors should be working to right this wrong turn in social care.

BARRY PICKTHALL

Spokesman, Don’t Cut Us Out campaign

The Street, Walberton