Fears voiced over health and social care funding
A FORMER leader of Argyll and Bute council claims councillors will under-fund health and social care budgets when they slash £21.3 million from the authority’s spending over three years.
But a council spokeswoman said no decisions had been made on cutting the council budget.
James Robb, a Helensburgh councillor, told the Oban Times that it was only under questioning at a council meeting last week that ‘council officers were forced to reveal the Tory LibDem coalition administration is sticking to its plan to cut around 20 per cent from the social services budget’.
The council confirmed savings would now be spread over three years but the effect was the same. So the outlook budget gap over the next three years is £21.3m (2016-17, £7.8m; 2017-18, £7.9m; and 201819, £ 5.6m).
Mr Robb, former leader of the local authority, said: ‘The cuts to social work over that period are more than £10million so equate to almost half the cuts.
‘This is an area which has the highest dependence on low paid workers and the national minimum wage is set to rise from £ 6.50 to £9, a 38 per cent increase.
‘Of course, all the problems associated with this will transfer to the new integrated health and social care partnership and NHS budgets are already strained with austerity and increasing demand.’
He continued: ‘This is a cynical move by the Tory LibDem coalition administration to sneakily slash social work budgets and transfer all the responsibility and problems to the new integrated health and social care board next April.
‘The message being sent out is clear, we don’t care about our old and vulnerable, who are poor and rely on existing council services. Even those with savings find those soon depleted with the costs of care and find themselves reliant on public sector services and support that won’t have the funding to deliver what is required.’
Responding to questions on whether or not there was a threat to the funding of the newly-formed integration board, an Argyll and Bute spokeswoman said: ‘No decisions have been taken regarding social work expenditure for 2016/ 7 and beyond.’