Wiltshire Council’s director of adult and community services, Ray Jones, has stepped down from the post, saying swingeing cuts have been forced on the council by cash-strapped health authorities.
Jones and the council agreed by mutual consent that he was not the best person to make what are expected to be significant cuts to social care budgets as part an overall council deficit of 7m.
Jones said the savings had been forced on the council mainly by primary care trusts shunting costs.
He told Community Care he did not believe he was the right person to make the savings, having spent the past 14 years building up social care services in the county.
Jones has taken early retirement and an interim director will be appointed.
Under Jones’s leadership, Wiltshire has been at the forefront of developing integrated health and social care services. But the council said it would have to withdraw from these because of the impact of budget deficits in the NHS in the county.
Jones said: “We have tackled financial problems together before, but what is exceptional this time is the scale of the difficulties and the significant and unplanned for costs being passed to the council by the NHS.”
The PCTs – Kennet and North Wiltshire, and West Wiltshire – withdrew 3m from several council-commissioned care schemes in March (Wiltshire services under threat after cash-strapped health trusts pull £3m, 6 April). The local authority previously had to absorb 2m in costs passed from the PCTs, which have to make combined savings of 20m in 2006-7.
Jones takes over as chair of the British Association of Social Workers later this month but said he had no other immediate plans.