Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Why I oppose the challenge to the Essex & Silver Rooms

City Conservatives have today joined the growing chorus of opposition to the government's shift to personal budgets which could see valuable local services, such as the Essex and Silver Rooms, closing. I thought I would say, in more detail, why this is.

The decision to close the Essex and Silver Rooms comes as an unfortunate move for Norfolk County Council, forced in part by the Westminster government telling our local government to move to a “personal budget” model which represents a dramatic change from the former block-contracts system. Though the “personal budget” for social care offers people greater freedom, it doesn’t readily allow for day centres because they cannot guarantee the income they previously received, effectively forcing their closure.

No centre can move ahead without knowing it will be funded properly. Under “personal budgets” the centres may survive but if a number of people move their funding away from them, then they will have to shut. If these services close, where will people who depend upon that specific centre then go for care? It seems to me that this shows one of the potential weaknesses of the new system. I am strongly urging Norfolk County Council to recognise the needs for these important centres to stay open, especially given the shortage of day centre places and the waiting list to attend many of them.

So ... what now?
I will be working with my colleagues on Norwich City Council – from all parties – to see what we can do to help the campaign. I know some people believe all is lost, but I feel positive we can change this decision if we all work together. If we can prove that this is a genuine cross-party campaign with the strong backing of local people then we have a chance.

Norfolk County Council have options - for a start opposing what is being forced upon us by the national government. I hope they are in a listening mood.


Anonymous said...

I recieved your leaflet today. I would have said hello but you were talking to 2 people in the street at the time. Thank you for taking a real interets in this matter - good to see our local politicans taking the time and effort. I will display your poster and return the petition slip. More power to you

Anonymous said...

a Conservative Government will look at ways of creating more personalisation in health and social care, and more patient power.

In addition, we want to see much greater use of direct payments and individual budgets, which give people real control over their care.

So what would you do differently as an MP?

Antony said...

Anon; I don't oppose personalised budgets per say - for many people they will equal freedom and choice and that is great.

But the counter side of that freedom and choice is less freedom and choice for those who cannot access other services and find their local centre has shut.

I would argue that the county council needs to guarantee funding for at least 12 months, if not more, to see what happens to the money under PB and help the centres to budget. This funding could come from the savings pot created by the switch to PB.