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1,000 learning disability adults to move out of residential care in £52m Birmingham council cuts plan

1,000 learning disability adults to move out of residential care in £52m Birmingham council cuts plan

🕔29.Oct 2013

As many as 1,000 adults with learning disabilities may be moved out of Birmingham council residential homes into care in the community as part of a £52 million social services cost-cutting plan.

Labour city council leaders insist the proposal will result in a better quality of life for people currently “warehoused” in institutional care.

However, attempts in the past to persuade people to leave residential care on the basis that they will have a better life in the community have met with angry resistance from campaign groups.

Scaling down residential care will save £30 million over three years and is part of a radical transformation of adult social services reflecting huge cuts in government grant.

Planned cash cuts would also see £5.6 million disappear from the Supporting People programme, £8.1 million from public health services and £8 million from third sector grants.

Cllr Steve Bedser, the cabinet member for health and wellbeing, told a media briefing that Birmingham had an over-reliance on residential care for people with learning disabilities compared with other major cities, which left people institutionalised.

He said: “We are warehousing people and putting them in an environment that is very restrictive.”

Cllr Bedser added that “however profound and challenging this is”, he had “absolute conviction” that people moving out if care homes would have a better quality of life.

He likened council-run day centres to “five-star hotels” which would be a vast improvement on residential care, although people with the most substantial and critical needs will remain in homes.

The proposal is contained in the latest service review green paper produced by the Labour-run local authority setting out how the city council will respond to a projected £825 million funding shortfall.

An initial review of adult social services outlined ways to save £37 million, but was rejected as not going far enough by council leader Sir Albert Bore. The revised version proposes a minimum of £52 million savings over three years, but the figure will rise to £80 million if the government’s austerity programme is not scaled back.

The £80 million figure involves withdrawing all council support for preventative services including anti-obesity work, smoking awareness campaigns and help for people suffering domestic violence.

The Be Active project, which offers free use of gyms and sports centres for all Birmingham adults, would also be scrapped.

Cllr Bedser said the council had to accept that it would be unlikely to afford to run non-statutory services such as health advice if it did not have sufficient funds to run statutory services.

He said the controlling Labour group had backed the proposals outlined in the green paper.

However, a vote was not taken at a poorly attended meeting during the school half term holiday week when many Labour councillors could not be present.

One Labour councillor told Chamberlain Files: “The position is that the Labour group is yet to vote on any of the green papers. They have all simply been noted.

“The really important decisions will be taken in November when we will be asked to approve a series of damaging and wide-ranging cuts for public consultation. That is when we shall see whether Sir Albert can convince the Labour group that this is the right way to proceed.”

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