Cuts to county council care budgets ‘devastating news’ say campaigners

Protesters outside County Hall
Protesters outside County Hall

‘Devastating’ cuts of £46m to the social care budget in West Sussex are being planned by the county council, according to campaigners.

Don’t Cut us Out, a group formed to protect the vulnerable across the county, claimed this week that essential adult services and support would be hit with £46m cuts as part of a £140m savings drive. It called on West Sussex County Council to consider alternate courses of action.

However, the authority said it was merely responding to a reduction in funding from central Government and accused Don’t Cut us Out of misleading people.

A WSCC spokesperson said: “It is disappointing that Don’t Cut Us Out has chosen both to mislead the public about the scale of the budgetary problems being faced by West Sussex County Council, nor to outline the solutions we are putting into place to still try to support the most vulnerable in our society.

“We are responding to the Government’s determination to reduce the national deficit, which has meant that local government is having to reduce budgets.

“For us this has involved making changes in the way we deliver services, which will mean working more closely with our partners in the health service to deliver a more integrated system that is also more personalised towards the person.”

The authority announced the need to find £140m savings over the next four years earlier this year, on top of £79m cuts already made.

Margaret Guest, chairman of Don’t Cut us Out, said: “This is devastating news.

“The vulnerable and elderly are still reeling from the £31 million in cuts imposed to essential care services back in 2011. Further cuts of this magnitude can only lead to a complete breakdown in care.”

She added: “We do not believe that this is the vision West Sussex residents want for themselves and their families. We do not believe that a privatised social care service is what vulnerable people want either.

“We call on West Sussex County Council to reconsider their disastrous financial plan and their flawed strategy for future provision of public services, and to properly consult with residents.”

However, a WSCC spokesperson countered: “WSCC is not privatising social care. We need to make the best use of public funds and will be commissioning more services from the private sector.

“There is nothing intrinsically wrong about buying services from the private sector.

“Adults’ Services will continue to be the biggest budget holder in West Sussex County Council.

One of WSCC’s road show events on the proposed changes will be held at County Hall North on Monday December 16 at 5.30pm.