Local authorities should ask adult care service users and carers in deciding on proposed budget cuts to ensure they are sustainable, a director has said.
As Harrow Council launched a pre-consultation on cutting its adult care budget in line with the government’s spending review, the borough’s corporate director of adults and housing, Paul Najsarek, said adults’ services needed to better engage users and carers.
Several authorities have drawn up proposals for cuts and then consulted on them. However, Najsarek said Harrow would be taking a different approach by involving users and carers in drawing up the plans.
“This is not something an authority can do on its own,” he said. “Our relationships with our users are the most personal of any council service and you can’t make the shift we want to without the positive engagement of service users. That’s something the sector needs to promote.”
The council is planning to cut £45m from its budget over the next three years, with an estimated £15m expected to come from adults’ services, on which Harrow now spends £80m a year.
Najsarek said it was possible to make reductions through efficiency savings next year, including by investing in reablement care and squeezing spending on contracts with providers.
But, he said, from 2012 to 2014 further reductions would have to come through measures such as increasing contributions from service users on personal budgets or restricting access to transport services.
It will consult users on developing proposals between now and Christmas, before producing specific plans next year.
Najsarek added that the council had ruled out increasing its eligibility threshold from substantial to critical. In 2008, the authority dropped plans to raise its threshold to critical after losing a judicial review on the issue.
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