Adur, West & East Worthing Party including East Arun

2012 West Sussex Tories Dossier of Shame – Published by the Don’t Cut Us Out Campaign

2012 Don’t Cut Us Out – WSCC Dossier of Shame

West Sussex County Council says that there is no alternative but to cut front-line services and care support to 4,500 disabled and elderly people across the County.  Yet, as The Don’t Cut Us Out Dossier of Shame now exposes that during the 3-year period of cutting £31 million from their Adult Services budget, WSCC has salted away a staggering £38 million into reserves which  now stand at a record £148 million!

The Council spends 40% of its annual budget on Adults’ Services, and has used accountancy, rather than common sense and fairness, to determine how to divide up their “required” £79m budget reduction.

WSCC stats from the first 3,214 reassessments of elderly and disabled during 2011/12

  • 12% of elderly people, and people with physical and sensory impairments, have been found ineligible for any services and have lost their entire care packages.
  • 53% had had their care package reduced in value, leaving them less able to cope with living independently.
  • 20% of people with learning disabilities lost their entire care package,
  • 52% of people with learning disabilities have had their care package reduced.
  • 11% of people with mental health disabilities have lost all their care support
  • 54% of people with mental health disabilities had their care and support reduced.
  • The average cut in care support for the elderly and those with physical and sensory impairments was £31 per week. For those with learning difficulties, the average cut is £47 per week. The average cut for those with mental health disabilities is £37 per week.  However, some of the most serious cases in all categories have lost as much as £300 a week.
  • The average cut in weekly care support across all categories is £33 per week (£1,716 per year)

Budget restrictions however, have not stopped Councillors from continuing to spend on excessive and ‘non-essential’ items.  Here, the Don’t Cut Us Out Campaign, speaking out for the Vulnerable across West Sussex, has published its second annual WSCC Dossier of Shame – highlighting items that Councillors believe to be more important than caring for the disabled and elderly.

1. WSCC take £31 million of vital care support from the Vulnerable – only to stash it away in Reserves!

While WSCC is cutting care to the Vulnerable and closing day centres across the County, Tory Councillors have been quietly building Reserves to record levels.  In 2010 when these Cuts were first imposed, Council Reserves stood at £108 million. This year they stand at £146 million – a massive £38 million increase!  This amount more than covers all the £31 million in cuts and suffering being imposed on the disabled and elderly – and would have left £7 million to spare!

In February, the Council decided to stash away an eye-watering £15.8m in Reserves – twice the amount that the Tory Council is cutting from Adult Services this year!

“The Tories are pouring money into the reserves for a rainy day. Unfortunately for many of our most vulnerable residents in the County, it is pouring with rain already. Their need is now. They are having services slashed away from them regardless of age.” – Brenda Smith, Leader of the WSCC Labour Group

This increase in reserves more than covers the entire cuts so cruelly imposed on the elderly and disabled

2. West Sussex Tories waste £100,000 on PR, making You-Tube films of themselves at the expense of the Vulnerable

West Sussex County Council has been criticised for spending £100,000 making online advice videos on subjects such as ‘how to wash your hands’ and ‘how to make a phone call.’

The WSCC You-tube film unit cost £40,000 to set up, and £26,000 a year to run. Of the 54 video clips on the WSCC YouTube site, which include personal political interviews with Tory Cabinet Members, 23 have viewing figures of less than 200 over the past year.

The so-called ‘Digital Democracy’ section of the Council’s own website offered a series of self-promotional videos with Cabinet Councillors justifying their cuts to a public who clearly don’t buy it, and aren’t tuning in. The likes of Louise Goldsmith (Leader), Peter Catchpole (Adult Services) and Peter Evans (Children’s Services) all trotted out justifications for brutal cuts, which would have upset many people in West Sussex, if anyone had actually watched them. This series has just been taken down from the West Sussex website presumably because of to the adverse publicity they have created. What a waste of money!

The £100,000 spent to date could fund the cuts in social care funding for 58 vulnerable people in West Sussex

* Source: Daily Telegraph,  West Sussex Lib Dems

3. Kieran Stigant, WSCC Chief Executive who earns £175,000 a year –  £57,500 more than Prime Minister– could be given a 20% bonus this year. That’s an extra £35,000, pushing his total pay packet above £200,000 – His bonus alone would fund an average cut in benefits for 20 vulnerable people for the year!

What could such a bonus be given for? Cutting the number of jobs in the Council quick enough, or cutting vital services for disabled and elderly people in the most efficient way possible?
*Source: WSCC

4. 19 staff within WSCC earn in excess of £100,000 a year. By comparison, East Sussex CC has just 12 employees earning more than £100,000.

The £700,000 extra that WSCC pay its top staff compared to East Sussex is enough to fund the cut in care funding suffered by 408 vulnerable people this year

*Source: TaxPayers’ Alliance

5. Spend on consultants still sky-high

WSCC claim that they need to pay top dollar rates to attract the best managers.  But the Council is also paying some consultants up to £2,400 per day to make these decisions for them. In 2009/10, WSCC spent £3.5million on consultants who looked at how the Council should organise itself. This sum would cover the average cut in benefits for 2,039 vulnerable people.

*Source: WSCC website and The Argus

6. Louise Goldsmith, leader of WSCC, can claim personal allowances of £40,000 per annum

This is enough to fund the average benefit cuts suffered by 23 vulnerable people
*Source: WSCC web site

7. Chichester Festival Theatre – This year, WSCC is also contributing £1.5 million towards its redevelopment.

This money would have been better spent redeveloping WSCC day centres and other facilities that the disabled and elderly rely on. Instead, the Council closed Council day centres in Midhurst, Horsham and Pulborough.

*Source: WSCC web site

8. WSCC freeze Council Tax, but then put up prices for the Vulnerable

This year (2012/13) the elderly face an inflation-busting 8% increase for their vital Meals on Wheels service. But that’s nothing compared to the 19% increase for meals served at day centres. Worse, WSCC has sacked their skilled cooks and instead, now ask staff to re-heat inferior frozen meals – a far cry from the previous home-cooked meals served before these cuts were made.

Disabled or elderly people using a Council day centre five times a week must now budget an extra £130 a year from their very limited disposable income. The Council says it has frozen Council tax to protect hard-pressed Residents, but all it has done is shift the tax burden onto those disabled and elderly frail residents who are even more hard-pressed than the rest of us.

9. Big money wasted on big projects (which invariably don’t deliver)

West Sussex County Council is still pursuing ‘grand ideas’ at the expense of the public purse, often employing highly paid consultants to do so. One example is its ‘Domiciliary Care Commissioning’ project developed to secure annual savings of between £2.5million and £3.7million from 2011/12*.

WSCC employed an army of consultants and highly paid project managers, but the project sank without trace when it became obvious that it would never deliver.
Another major waste of ratepayers’ money.

*Source: WSCC web site

10. Tory Councillors fail to heed their own public consultations

Last Autumn, the Council ran a public consultation ‘Every Pound Counts’ asking:

  • How would you allocate money to each County Council service?
  • How well do you think WSCC is doing at the moment?
  • What sort of organisation should WSCC be in the future?

The Council gave the public a 20-point list of subjects to select from.

Support for vulnerable adults came first by a wide margin, with 38% calling on the Council to put the Vulnerable first.

And what came last in the poll?  The Big Society!

And what has WSCC done since?  The Council has developed 6 entirely new Big Society teams and has given councillors £240,000 to spend on their Big Society projects this year, whilst reducing its Adults’ Services budget by £7.6million in 2012/13. Why run expensive ‘consultations’ if you intend to ignore their findings? What a waste of money!

This Big Society budget would fund cuts in care support for 140 vulnerable people per year.

11. WSCC IT incompetence loses £ 271,000 from the Adults’ Services budget.

Last year, WSCC introduced its Frameworki computer system to control the Adults’ Services budget. It has been an unmitigated disaster. During the first 6 months of operation, the system failed to collect almost £500,000 in payments. At the end of February, £161,000 remained outstanding.

The System also overpaid £440,000 to service providers. At the end of February the Council had still to recover £110,000

The total outstanding is enough to fund average benefit cuts suffered by 55 vulnerable people for one year.

12. It’s Official – WSCC rated one of the worst Councils in England for how it is cutting care support to disabled and elderly residents.

Last Summer, these cuts in services dropped WSCC to the bottom of the pile when compared to other Councils in England. In a survey published by Demos, a highly respected independent think tank, WSCC finished up 143rd out of 152 local councils.

By comparison:

  • Kent was ranked 14 th
  • Hampshire – 30 th
  • East Sussex – 74 th
  • Isle of Wight – 83 th
  • Surrey – 87th

The survey, commissioned by SCOPE, marked each Council on six critical elements and rated WSCC’s cuts as ‘VERY HIGH’ and its coping level as ‘BAD’.

In the survey, WSCC’s record on care came out particularly badly:

  • 19.51 per cent budget reduction to older people’s care and support
  • 7.56 per cent budget reduction to adult care and support
  • 3.52 per cent budget reduction to disabled children and families’ care and support

The Report highlighted the fact that in 2011/12 West Sussex increased the cost of meals at day centre services by 23.5% and raised the eligibility for care service from a lower ‘moderate’ level, to the higher ‘substantial’ and ‘critical’ levels of need. Further, WSCC also began deducting 15% of the amount of a personal budget before giving it to a person with mental health needs. Personal budgets are cash payments that can be given to disabled people who are eligible for care and support services to buy their own services, rather than have them provided by the Council.

To compare other Councils in England and Wales go to:

The Don’t Cut Us Out Campaign has shown that cutting benefits and care support to the disabled and elderly will not save money. Expert after expert say that when you take away care support from those with ‘moderate’ disabilities, they quickly slip down to ‘substantial’ and even ‘critical’ levels and require much more financial support as a result – but not before enduring enormous distress and trauma.

One enlightened Council is Kent. There, the professionals within Adult Services view support for those with ‘moderate’ disabilities as an investment that saves money in the long run.

For further information, contact:

Barry Pickthall

Don’t Cut Us Out CampaignSpeaking out for the Vulnerable across West Sussex

Help Line: 01243 555561

Mobile: 07768 395719