Fringe Box



Opinion: Cuts to Surrey’s Social Services Cannot Go On

Published on: 16 Nov, 2016
Updated on: 19 Nov, 2016

Social ServicesFiona White

Lib Dem county councillor for Guildford West

I am shocked! I saw a link from Leonard Cheshire charity to a website about the state of social care in Britain. I put in my postcode to find out what the situation is in Surrey and, although I have sat through briefings at County Hall, I found the figures incredible.

In 2015/16 the county council turned down 78% of requests for social care which means that out of 35,565 requests, only 7,995 were successful.

It is not unreasonable that some requests were turned down but clearly the criteria Surrey has set to provide social care is so high that less than 1 in 4 people who apply actually qualify.

In my experience, people usually put off applying until they have got to the stage where they can’t cope any more, even with help from their family and friends. All over England, councils are having to cut the services they are giving to vulnerable and disabled residents.

Just to be clear what social care means, it is support for people who need help to do the everyday things the rest of us take for granted. Things like getting up and dressed in the morning; using the toilet; having a shower or a wash; preparing food and eating it.

Without those basics, none of us would be able to manage let alone have any quality of life. The people who need that support could be someone who is disabled due to physical ill health or learning difficulties or they could be someone who is older and is frail in their old age, despite the fact that they have worked hard all their lives.

Without mentioning names, let me tell you about one lady who had osteoarthritis. Her husband died and she could not get out of bed, use the toilet or get something to eat or drink without help.

She had to get up when the care worker came – sometimes mid-morning – and go to bed when they came back – sometimes at about teatime. Often, the care worker was the only person she saw for days and they didn’t have time to chat because they had to get on to the next person.

Why are we in this state? Well, Surrey has had to cut its care budgets year after year. In the six years up to 2015/16 they had made “savings” of £190million. That is an average of £31.6million a year.

In the future millions more will have to be saved whilst all the time, the number of people needing care is increasing. Last year the council was allowed to add an extra 2% on council tax for Adult Social Care which brought in £12million but the additional cost of care was £24million.

For years the Conservative administration at County Hall has tried to say that it has not been cutting back on frontline services. Obviously that is not true.

One of the reasons for all this is that central government is cutting the grant to Surrey County Council (SCC) every year. SCC Conservatives are now saying that the government are not funding the service properly.

They are right but, of course, it is their own Conservative government who are treating our old and vulnerable people so badly. If you add to this the money that the county council has wasted over the years on expensive agency staff and its failure to recruit properly and fill vacancies, you have a recipe for disaster.

This cannot go on. As an officer in Adult Services said to me “If the savings were there, we would have made them by now”. It is time for this government to wake up and recognise what they are doing to people who need care through no fault of their own and who don’t have the money to buy it without help.

Opinion pieces from all local political parties are invited (no more than one a month please).

Share This Post

Responses to Opinion: Cuts to Surrey’s Social Services Cannot Go On

  1. Bernard Parke Reply

    November 16, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    I believe that we should all be grateful to Cllr White for bringing this to our notice.

    Central government should not keep cutting the central reserve grant to local authorities and to expect the hard pressed council tax payer to “pick up the tab.”

  2. Anne Rubin Reply

    November 16, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    Thank you for excellent article. Also I agree with Bernard Parke these cuts should not happen as services are almost non-existent in lots of areas. People who use them are finding things very hard.

    Please wake up and don’t let things get worse.

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *