The much-publicised Don’t Cut Us Out Campaign Crisis in Care debate at County Hall last Friday produced more questions than answers.
The last-minute ban by the council on the use of visual aids to support disabled speaker Peter Adams, not only robbed the debate of embarrassing evidence showing the devastating effects that cuts in care are now having, but how West Sussex County Council has taken away essential (Big Society) funding from care charities struggling to provide the council’s so-called ‘alternative’ services. Had that hard evidence been allowed, the debate might well have had a very different outcome.
The banned video showed the desperate plight of seven cases spread across West Sussex as examples of the devastating effects these cuts are having not just on the vulnerable but those with severe needs.
DCUO has championed all these cases when WSCC failed to offer them independent advocacy support, and can testify to the distressing delays experienced in council responses to their questions and appeals. These cases are but the ‘tip of the iceberg’.
Two weeks ago WSCC dismissed as ‘unrepresentative’ the findings from LINK, the West Sussex consumer voice in health and social care, regarding the impact of cuts.
It ignored the voices of individual witnesses and its own customer and carer group. By also banning the video it shows it does not want to hear or to know about how much disabled people are suffering as a result of the cuts- ‘let them come and spend a day with me’ - a comment made by Peter Adams
And what about the money? In her letter to this newspaper last week, Louise Goldsmith said that the council ‘is not awash with money’.
During her address to the council, she added that that all but £18m of the £176m in reserves was already allocated to capital projects, and that they were ‘between a rock and a hard place.’
Any organisation that sees its bank balance increase by 63 per cent over the past two years can hardly be described as between a ‘rock and a hard place’. Ms Goldsmith needs to be much more circumspect.
This nonsense simply adds to the frustration and anger felt by many disabled and elderly people who believe councillors are out of touch with the lives they lead.
This council has also corrupted the phrase ‘Big Society’ by increasing funds for community projects at the expense of care charities – the very organisations we expect to step in to support the vulnerable during austere times.
Peter Adams’ banned audio visual highlighted one case - Age Concern – Southbourne. WSCC has slashed this charity’s grant from £8,000 down to £2,128. The council then charges the charity £2,850 in rent, and with the addition of £3,000 for insurance and services, this leaves Age Concern with a deficit of £3,720 – and no money to help the elderly.
Many other care charities across the county have lost out just as badly.
The message Peter Adams had for councillors was - ‘It is time to get your priorities right’.
To view the video that WSCC banned from the debate, go to:
Chairman of the Don’t Cut Us Out Campaign, The Street,