East Sussex fury at minister’s remarks

Community care minister Stephen Ladyman has refused to back down
over comments that East Sussex Council is likely to be the only
area in the country that will lose out over the delayed discharge
fining system.

In a BBC interview last week, Ladyman said East Sussex – the most
improved council in the country under the government’s 2003 social
services star ratings – was likely to be the only council that
would have to pay back more money in fines than it received from
the government.

Ladyman said if the council’s performance in previous months
continued it would be on course to exceed its annual grant of
£526,000 in the first three months of the fines regime. He
blamed this on its failure to tackle care home shortages.

But council leader Peter Jones said fines for January would be
around £10,700 and were not expected to rise significantly in
February or March.

He has written to Ladyman asking for an explanation on where his
information came from. “The picture portrayed is not only
inaccurate and insulting to our hard-working front-line
staffÉbut also irresponsible and unnecessarily alarming,” he

A Department of Health spokesperson said Ladyman stuck by his
comments but stressed these were preliminary figures.

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