Council drops controversial plans to limit personal budgets

Southampton withdraws proposal to limit budgets for care at home after warnings it could force more people into residential care

Picture: West End 61/Rex Features
Picture: West End 61/Rex Features

Southampton City Council has dropped a controversial cost saving proposal to limit personal budgets for care at home.

The council wanted to review all care packages costing over £500-a-week for people with physical or learning disabilities who were supported at home. If the review found the person’s needs could be met more “cost-effectively” in residential care then the budget would have been set at the cost of that placement.

The £500-a-week trigger for reviews was based on bringing costs more in line with fees for residential and nursing home placements. The council said its standard rates were £486-a-week for nursing homes and £368-a-week for care homes.

The proposal drew fierce criticism from user-led organisations who said it could force people to leave their homes and families and move into residential care. Experts also warned the proposal risked legal challenge on several grounds.

The council was consulting on the plans with a view to making recommendations to cabinet next month. However, Councillor David Shields, Southampton’s Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, has written to local user groups to say the proposal has now been withdrawn.

In an extract from the letter, which has been shared on social media, Shields wrote: “I plan to use the feedback received so far to develop a fresh, broader proposal around how we set personal budgets for all adult social care users, so that we can ensure we provide care and support that meets eligible unmet social care needs, in a way that best balances individual needs and preferences with the requirement to ensure value for money and a more equitable use of our very limited financial resources.

“We will ensure that there is genuine and full consultation on this.”

Robert Droy, project manager at user-led organisation the Spectrum centre for independent living, said his group welcomed the council’s decision.

“However it is concerning that local authorities believe that disabled people’s human rights can be compromised in the hope of making short term financial savings. We hope the council will work with us to develop a longer term strategy to ensure all disabled people are supported during this period of limited financial resources.”

 

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