Fight for free, public, adult social care
Sarah Welch, West Sussex Socialist Party
Tory-controlled West Sussex County Council (WSCC) is proposing to cut Adult Services by 50% from £10 million to £5 million per year. It says that these cuts will not take place until 2022-23, but many community-based projects have already had their funding cut. This will be the third round of cuts to Adult Services since 2011.
The council wants to cut day services and residential places. The proposals are that all adults living in residential places or supported living will no longer have access to day services.
This will mean that many people in supported living will effectively just stay in their homes, with carers coming in a few times a day. For the remainder of the day they will be left on their own, severely impacting their mental health, leaving them isolated and bored. These are the most vulnerable people in our community. As carers, we fear for their safety.
Adults living at home with family will have priority access to day care services. However, they will be restricted to just three days per week. They will also only be able to access one provider, and most will not be able to offer services three days a week. What happens during the rest of the week? What about carers who have work responsibilities?
To add insult to injury, disabled people nationally now have to pay a client contribution towards their care. The contribution is calculated based on a financial assessment of a person’s income and ‘disability related expenditure’. Following this assessment the local authority sets a ‘minimum income guarantee’- its assessment of the amount needed for a person to live on. Every local authority is different, an unfair postcode lottery.
The client contribution is calculated as a person’s income, minus the ‘minimum income guarantee’ and the ‘disability related expenditure’. Many disabled people are left with very little income. For some it is a choice between heating their home, eating, or paying the care charge. Many are being pushed into debt, living in a state of fear and desperation, and left to struggle without the appropriate care and support needed to live a happy life.
The legality of this tax is being questioned. At the end of 2019, Norfolk County Council was taken to the High Court about the client contribution and lost. Norfolk County Council then had to pay all of the money back, plus interest, to all service users who had paid the charge.
We continue to fight these cuts to our service and the social care charge. We have linked up with other campaign groups around the country and it has now become a national campaign.
Our vision for social care is that it should be publicly owned, free, and funded by government, paid for by the super-rich who have only got richer during the pandemic. The best way to improve how adult social care is administered is if it is controlled democratically by service users, care workers, and the local community.
We will continue to fight these cuts, and campaign that social care should be free at the point of use. We will always fight for our people who are continually attacked by a system that sees them as surplus to requirements.