The Conservative-run County Council is set to ask some of the most vulnerable residents in Hertfordshire to contribute more to social care charges to cover up the Government’s failure to fund social care properly.
The move comes at a time when demand for social care is growing, but continued cuts to social care budgets imposed at national level mean Hertfordshire County Council is looking to save £4m in its adult care budget.
Conservative councillors seem determined that it is our most vulnerable residents who should make up the difference. At the most recent Adult Care Services Cabinet Panel they voted to consult users on proposed increases to care charges that could leave some paying more than £130 a week extra for the care they receive. The move was opposed by Liberal Democrat Councillors.
Councillor Ron Tindall, Liberal Democrat Opposition Spokesperson for Adult Care Services and Health and Wellbeing, said: “These cuts are a direct result of the government’s continued failure to properly fund social care. We have some sympathy with the Council’s need to make savings, but these proposals will simply push more vulnerable people into poverty, and will likely mean that some will turn down services that they feel they can no longer afford.”
A draft consultation document produced for the panel was criticised by many councillors, but nonetheless the Conservatives on the panel voted it through to approval without any changes.
Liberal Democrat Councillor Nigel Quinton notes that: “We hope that service users and their carers will be listened to through the consultation, but the suspicion will be that the plans are already drawn up. Indeed, one Conservative member seemed more concerned about the cost of the consultation than the scale of the increased charges.”
One area of potential saving being proposed is the doubling of transport charges for social care users. This will save less than £50,000 per annum and will inevitably lead to greater isolation of vulnerable residents, making the increase counterproductive as a way of saving the council money.
Councillor Ron Tindall adds: “The Prime Minister acts like a rabbit caught in the headlights, doing nothing while the care sector continues to crumble and the most vulnerable in our society are ignored. It is staggering that at a time when demand is increasing, we are spending less than before and looking after fewer in society. The Conservative austerity policy is past its sell-by date and is now causing irreparable damage to vital services.”