Council faces legal challenge over cuts

Oxfordshire Council may face a legal challenge
from public sector union Unison over its decision to vote through a
£9m package of cuts affecting vulnerable people in the county
in an attempt to redress an overspend of £5.3m.

Unison branch secretary Mark Fysh said the
cuts would affect statutory services. A recent survey of Unison
members revealed a vote of four to one in favour of some sort of
action in protest against the cuts.

“The absence of a proper consultation period
prior to the decision, the rigidity of the eligibility criteria,
the absence of alternative support and the notion that community
care should be assessed on individual need and not just resources,
are all thought to be potential grounds for a legal challenge,”
Fysh said.

The cuts proposed include: a £2.5m
reduction for services for older people; £2m less for those
with learning difficulties; £2.1m less for children and
families, including the closure of three short-break resource
centres; and £1.4m less for mental health services.

But departing director of social services Mary
Robertson said: “It’s about matching services to resources and
there has to be a level at which we do that. We don’t believe that
respite centres are cost effective.”

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