Wiltshire financial crisis strikes at care eligibility and transport service

The full impact of Wiltshire Council’s financial problems on recipients of social care was revealed in papers presented to the authority’s cabinet this week.

Older people and those with learning difficulties face cuts to services and transport under plans drawn up by the council’s department of adult and community services to tackle a projected £7m funding shortfall.

This follows the news that the council is ending direct payments to disabled people for leisure opportunities (Wiltshire cuts fall on disabled people).

The council cabinet this week voted in favour of proposals to cut transport costs for service users who attend day centres.

These were agreed in January but have only been applied so far to new referrals and service users who have been subject to reviews.

Older people or those with learning difficulties attending services will have to fund their own transport if they receive the mobility element of the Disability Living Allowance.

They will also be expected to travel to services independently if they can, or be taken to services by providers and carers.

Service users will be consulted on these proposals. The council has also tightened eligibility criteria for social care, as approved by the cabinet in May.

Under these new criteria, people are entitled to services only if their needs are judged to be substantial and critical and their well-being would be at risk without the service.

This is a tightening from the previous criteria of substantial and critical needs.

The council, which also wants to set up a new commissioning framework for adult care, is holding 16 consultation events across the county and will set up a helpline for people affected by the plans. A final report will go to its cabinet in September.

Community Care has also learned that a service user affected by the direct payments cut could take legal action against the council because it did not reassess her needs before informing her of its decision.

Vivien Cantrell, who may seek legal aid to fund court action, said: “One person has to stand up and be counted. If that’s what it takes, I will do it.”

Wiltshire plans to save:
£100,000 by reducing supported housing for people with learning difficulties
£120,000 by cutting voluntary sector funding
£75,000 in Independent Living Fund payments
£300,000 from support services

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