Wiltshire’s disabled people pay the price of cost shunting and deficit

Disabled people in Wiltshire have condemned moves by the council to cut services as it tackles financial deficits.

At the end of June the council’s lead member for adult services wrote to disabled people saying direct payments for leisure would stop on 1 August. The council had not consulted on the move.

It is also cutting funding for user involvement work carried out by the Wiltshire & Swindon Users’ Involvement Network.

It will only be left with funding to cover administration costs and said the move “effectively cuts us off below the head”.

The council is cutting some services as it tackles a £7m deficit and cost shunting from the NHS.

New Asset Former adult and community services director Ray Jones left the post after he agreed he was not the right person to make the cuts.

One direct payment recipient, Vivien Cantrell, said the cuts would deprive her of a social life.

Her personal assistant will be forced to find another job because of the cuts, leaving her without help to leave the house.

Wiltshire said it was stopping the leisure payments because of “severe financial pressures” and that the move would save £250,000.

Head of service Jeanette Longhurst said the council was reviewing all its services and would focus on those people who would face “critical and substantial risk” if services were not available to them. She said cuts to user involvement funding reflected moves to change the way the council consulted about services.

News of the funding cuts also came as Wiltshire announced that Jones’s successor as director will receive a higher salary to reflect the “enormity of the challenge”, particularly in tackling the budget deficit.

Wiltshire’s financial problems

  • January: Wiltshire’s director of adult and community services, Ray Jones, says the council is facing a £3.5m overspend.
  • March: Kennet and North Wiltshire and West Wiltshire primary care trusts withdraw £3m from a number of care schemes, 14 hours before the end of the financial year.
  • April: Jones leaves his post, saying he is not the right person to make the cuts.

    Are you affected by cuts to services in Wiltshire? If so, contact gordon.carson@rbi.co.uk


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