I was unable to attend the recent county council cuts roadshow events in which they outlined the proposed £140m cuts so I was grateful for the detailed ‘behind the headlines’ coverage in the Observer (19/12/13).
What I found immensely worrying are the areas singled-out for yet further disproportionate cuts. As widely criticised, WSCC has already decimated its youth service and are now singling out adult social care and health (£32.2m cuts) and children services (£5.58m cuts).
Having worked within the NHS and adult social services for over 20 years it remains disingenuous for both councillors and national politicians to keep perpetuating the ‘myth’ that there are further ‘backroom efficiency savings’ still to be made. Such statements are untrue as further savings no longer exist as all essential services have already been ‘cut to the bone’ or have been ‘contracted out’ to private enterprise – in an ideological drive to dismantle what remains of our welfare state. I find it perverse that local councillors can take it upon themselves to still find revenue to increase their own allowances (during a time of austerity) but happy to single out the most vulnerable for further cuts. It is morally unjustifiable that WSCC continues to sit on massive reserves (est £216m) but remain reluctant to look at all the choices available to them.
These proposed rounds of further cuts will affect everyone across West Sussex, so much so, that WSCC will find it difficult to honour its ongoing legal (statutory) duties to protect its most vulnerable citizens (young and old). So if you end up in hospital you are likely to become a ‘delayed discharge’ as future community care services will no longer exist. Your only support may be a food bank, a shrinking charitable sector or a profit-making care provider. The message is stark: don’t get sick, unemployed, homeless, old or dependent upon local services as they will no longer be there to help you – welcome to Cameron’s Dickensian ‘Big Society’.