I WOULD like to correct some of the misleading claims circulating since the very difficult decision I have taken that West Sussex County Council will no longer provide for moderate levels of adult social care.
Firstly, let me stress that there is no such thing as a hit list of tasks like washing or shopping that will no longer be funded.
It is not that simple.
Over the next six months everyone who currently receives adult social care from the county council will be individually reassessed by a social care professional using national guidance and eligibility criteria.
What may be classified as a moderate need for one person could be assessed as critical for a different individual.
For example, somebody confined to a wheelchair who cannot wash themselves at all would have a critical need for help with personal hygiene.
For someone who can’t get in to a bath but could use a shower their personal hygiene need may be classified as moderate.
There isn’t a tick-box formula of what we will or won’t fund in the future.
We estimate around 4,500 residents currently receiving care will have at least one moderate level need but the majority will also have substantial or critical needs, which we are continuing to fund.
Secondly, let me make clear that nobody will be suddenly left to fend for themselves.
Anybody who no longer meets the eligibility criteria will be supported to make alternative arrangements.
I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the investment we are making in improving health and well-being services for the WHOLE community.
We are providing an additional £1m into community preventative and well-being activities and alternative services.
Together with the county council’s current commitment to the voluntary sector, and an additional £2m of public health resources, we have at least £7m available to support this work.
This is hugely important at a time of increased pressure on services as a result of the ever increasing number of residents with complex needs.
The Department of Health has advised councils to ‘consider adopting a strong preventative approach to help avoid rising levels of need and costs at a later stage’ and this we are doing.
New Health and Well-being Hubs will be in place by September where anybody can go to obtain information and advice about the services and help available in their local area.
At the same time we are supporting services like telecare, community equipment and intermediate care designed to help people remain independent.
I fully understand the strength of feeling about changes in eligibility criteria but councils up and down the land are having to make similar difficult choices.
In West Sussex, we start from a particularly poor financial position having received the lowest possible grant settlement from central government for the past nine years, and, with the latest reductions, this leaves us in the worst financial situation we have ever faced.
It is because of this unprecedented financial situation facing the county council that this decision has been taken.
Despite this, we are one of the last counties to set its thresholds at substantial and critical, bringing us into line with nearly 80 per cent of other English authorities.
We will still be providing support for the most vulnerable people in West Sussex together with a really significant investment in preventative services for the community as a whole.
West Sussex Cabinet Member for Adults’ Services, County Hall, Chichester