SAVAGE funding cuts and hikes in day care costs for thousands of Southampton’s most vulnerable residents have been temporarily put on ice amid huge concerns about the drastic impact they would have.
Southampton City Council’s scrutiny committee voted unanimously to stall the controversial decision so it can be looked at again – and called for the entire plan to be halted while a full review is carried out.
The decision was made last night after a heated two-and-ahalf- hour debate in which carers and organisations representing them made impassioned pleas before councillors voted to refer the issue back to be reexamined and the final decision was deferred for one week.#
It comes after the Daily Echo highlighted the impact the cuts and hikes in fees would have on some of the city's most vulnerable residents.
The council plans to make savings of more than £500,000 by scrapping rent allowance payments to 91 families who care at home for adults who are severely disabled and have learning difficulties.
As part of massive changes to the adult social care budget they also plan to hike charges paid for day care at home, currently used by 2,300 elderly and vulnerable residents.
The meeting heard claims that the consultation had been flawed and that a meeting called to address those affected saw nearly 2,500 invitations sent out but only nine people turn up.
Among them was mum Liz Chapman, who cares for son Robert, 24, who has complex needs and is severely disabled.
Speaking after the meeting she said she was pleased that the decision had been referred back, but feared that it was just a “paper exercise” and nothing would be done to change it.
Ian Loynes, from Southampton Centre for Independent Living, told councillors that there needed to be a reality check and that the consultation had made it “virtually impossible to figure out what the impact would be on individuals”.
His views were echoed by Brian Strevens, from mental health charity Mencap, who called for the funding cuts to be stopped for one year while every carer and family was assessed.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Matt Stevens, the Cabinet member responsible, said he felt that one week was enough time to consider the concerns.
However, scrutiny committee chairman Cllr Jeremy Moulton said that there needed to be a full consultation with users