CUT-BACKS MAY HIT THE ELDERLY

PUBLISHED: 13:16 26 January 2006 | UPDATED: 11:28 04 May 2010

COUNTY council chiefs struggling to save up to £10.7 million have revealed cuts which could hit the elderly. In a bid to reduce spending, they outlined cuts to crucial services at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday. They have also warned health providers they

COUNTY council chiefs struggling to save up to £10.7 million have revealed cuts which could hit the elderly.

In a bid to reduce spending, they outlined cuts to crucial services at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

They have also warned health providers they may not get the money they need for the county's growing elderly population.

A plan to get elderly people out of residential homes and back into their own homes could save the county more than £700,000 in the next three years.

But, as more and more old folk prepare to return home, savings of more than £1 million to home care packages have been revealed.

A further £400,000 worth of cuts could be made to respite care which offers carers looking after the elderly or disabled a break from their routines.

A £270,000 saving on money provided to build up community-based social care services to allow old folk to live at home has been suggested and cash for old people's day care could be cut by £250,000.

Public transport also looks unlikely to miss the county council's axe with plans to cut £253,000 from the budget.

Health chiefs are worried after the county council revealed it could only offer them a 1.4 per cent inflationary increase and not the 2.4 per cent they had requested.

This leaves them over £1 million short and means they will only be able to help old folk already on their books.

There are also fears that the county council could change the criteria whereby the elderly are judged to be eligible to receive services.

East Cambridgeshire and Fenland Primary Care Trust is waiting to hear how much of the inflationary rise will come its way.

Director of integrated services, Cath Mitchell, told the Ely Standard: "We will continue to support the people we have but we won't be able to increase the number of people in the next 12 months. There will be less of a service for new people coming into the system.

"The county council still holds the responsibility for fair access to the system but there are concerns at the end of the day that under the partnership agreement it retains the right to change the criteria.

"If we don't keep up with inflation we won't be able to keep pace."

Cambridgeshire's Liberal Democrat leader, Cllr Julian Huppert, said: "These savings are just not deliverable. I think suddenly on April 1 the county will be reassessing people and giving them a bit less, which is completely and utterly wrong.

"It is just short-sighted if they do not help people now. They will end up paying later."

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesman said: "Because of our poor Government settlement, we are left between a rock and a hard place with very difficult spending decisions to make.

"One of the last things we want to do is reduce spending on the elderly but we have no choice.

" We very much regret that we are not able to give the Primary Care Trusts as much as they have asked for. But I can categorically assure people that there are no plans to change the assessment criteria.

"The reality is that we have had one of the worst financial settlements in the country and there is only so much money."

Public consultation is still underway on this year's budget and a final decision will be made by full council on February 21.

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