Day services face the axe as £15m cuts bite

TWO poorly-attended day centres could close along with “unpopular” homes for people with learning disabilities as a council seeks to save £15m by 2020.

Leader of Hull Council Coun Steve Brady.

Provision of adult social care in Hull is being dramatically reshaped by a combination of Government cuts, the introduction of personal budgets, which allows people to buy in the care services they want, as well as hundreds of new “extra care” flats.

Although the council has 280 people on their books for day services, only around 130 use their seven centres every day and “some are so underused that people are rattling around in them,” said Coun Helena Spencer. She claimed no one “would lose out and they would get a better service”, with centres reconfigured to cater for people with dementia and learning disabilities separately, rather than mixing up the age groups.

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Life “had moved on” and people with learning disabilities no longer wanted the student-style accommodation the council offered, with tenants having to share a kitchen and a living room. In some six-bedroomed houses, there were just two or three people. “The plan is to reduce the unpopular ones and keep the better ones,” she added.

In all the two least popular of the council’s six sheltered homes could close along with council-run day services at Bethune Avenue and Isaac Newton.

Coun Spencer said she hoped people with learning disabilities would be given first priority for spaces in the 300 new “extra care” apartments, which will become available from 2017. These are intended to give some of the city’s most vulnerable adults, including those with dementia, an alternative to residential care.

Consultation has begun with people directly affected by the changes and staff and the plans will be examined at a scrutiny meeting on Friday.

The adult social care budget which has already faced £10m cuts since 2010, now has to save a further £15.3m by April 2020. It follows a review that found current services “out dated” and “not fit for 21st century living”.

It said people accepted the current offer because they didn’t think there was an alternative. However “the decrease in the take up of day services, supported housing and community learning disability support demonstrates that people are exercising choice.”

Council leader Coun Steve Brady said: “With personal budgets people are voting with their feet - they are saying they can use their money better rather than with the council. In the end it’s market forces. A number of people who used to work for the council have gone away and set up their own facilities and they have proved far more popular.”

But the Labour administration was criticised by Liberal Democrat councillors for spending money on “pet” projects like the £36m conference centre, which is planned for Hull, over frontline services. Leader Coun Mike Ross said: “Labour need to decide what’s more important care or conference centres. “It really is a simple as that.”