Cuts in Derby

Hw widely considered are news reports about cuts such as this reported by Guardian Newspaper site about one council cutting 83% from one of its services? Derby Council are justifying this level of cuts because it believes that this will help preserve its commitment to providing other social care services. It also considers that the cuts it intends making in housing support will help it comply with government demands. It strikes me that Derby might be attempting to inflict political damage on the coalition by causing actual damage to disadvantaged people.

Sharp Axe
Severe Cuts!
photo credit: Garrett Wade

Cuts Cost

It struck me after reading the Guardian article that cuts might mean savings in one area but will lead to additional pressure in another. An official of derby city council made several comments that people should have other options to find support. This is what Patrick Butler reported,

That means, says Hussain, that “the vast majority” of around 400 vulnerable younger people in need of supported housing in Derby will no longer qualify for services in future. Asked what these people will do if the services are withdrawn, he agreed that some of them, inevitably, would have to on a different part of the state welfare system for support:

If they have got significant problems then they can fall back on statutory services like mental health

Fall Back or Fall Through?

It was that last comment in the article that stood out for me. The notion that vulnerable people have to hope that other services might catch them when they fall is short-sighted because other services themselves are finding it difficult enough to provide for those who already use them. I think that most people would recognise that having somewhere safe to live is a foundation that will help people in need to find stability. A permanent home is more that a place to live, it’s a place to live from. It can help a person or family to settle in a community and access health, education and social services; it will mean that other risks are reduced and that preparations can be made for employment or education and training where it is needed. It might be the case that Derby City Council is creating problems for the future. There is no doubt that these budget cuts have personal implications and consequences.

Cuts Reshape Services

I sometimes ponder whether this age os austerity is a smoke-screen that is enabling a massive shift in culture in the provision of social care and other services. There is no doubt that the more you cut a service the less it will deliver. If you spent say, £2,000 on a holiday last year and have to cut your spending this year by a half, your holiday will be different. You might still have a holiday but you choice will be restricted and you will not enjoy the same level of complexity. In the same way, people will get less, much less from public services. Finding efficiency savings is one thing and that might help do more for less but at some stage, if cuts in spending have exhausted all expenditure savings, that has to translate into doing less for less.

Cuts Shrink Service

One inevitable consequence of reduced budgets will be reduced services. It seems inevitable that public sector services will shrink further in the near future. Whilst I think that services will shrink I can’t see that people’s level of need will follow suit. As it happens, more private and voluntary services might develop to fill the gaps. This isn’t a new phenomenon in public services and is increasingly evident in health and social care as the government encourages the social enterprise model and as private providers seize opportunities to exploit this mixed economy of care.

Pound Coins
Cuts or Savings
photo credit: Mukumbura via photopin cc

Independence

One other emphasis to consider in these developments is the attempt to encourage independence or self-reliance. It seems that The State is repeatedly warning us that it cannot afford to look after people in the way it has. But even though this will promote or even force people to rely more on their own resources and those in the their communities it won’t be the case that the general level of need in society will reduce.

It may be that people will soon be looking for help and support from an even wider range of providers and this is where we hope The Neighbourgood will play a useful role. This is the place where people can look for support and where groups that provide support can get themselves found.

What do You Think?

So what do you think about all this? How do we fill the gaps that budget cuts are leaving us with and what do you think is the future of care provision? Please share your thoughts using the comments box below.

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