Worcestershire County Council’s proposal of a ‘maximum expenditure policy’ to cap the amount of social care services an adult with disabilities can receive have been criticised as ‘flawed and wrong’ by the WeareSpartacus campaign group.

Worcestershire Council is proposing to introduce a financial threshold, which represents the expected maximum weekly expenditure on a package of care in the community that would meet agreed eligible need.

This threshold would be no more than the weekly cost of a care home placement that could be commissioned to meet the individual’s assessed eligible needs. The proposal would only apply to new service users, if implemented.

Worcestershire Council has stated that if the policy is implemented it may result in people receiving services that were not their first choice. However, the council added that it strived to balance available resources and meet assessed eligible needs in a way that was transparent, equitable and enabled the best use of resources.

If this policy is implemented, it is estimated that it will save the council £200,000 in the first year, and increase in later years.

However, a report, ‘Past Caring’, which has been published by the research team at the WeareSpartacus campaign group, analysed the council’s proposals, and says the new policy:

  • Will mean disabled people get less support
  • Will mean a deterioration in care standards and quality of life
  • Could lead to disabled people being forced into residential care, even if they don’t want to go
  • Could force disabled people to rely on charity for the help and support they need
  • Goes against the recommendations of the Government’s White Paper on social care reform
  • Could be open to a legal challenge.

Dr Sarah Campbell, one of the report’s authors, said: “We know that times are hard; disabled people in Worcestershire and across the country are being hit by cuts to benefits and social care services. But the county council’s approach is flawed and wrong. Flawed, because any ‘maximum expenditure policy’ will have a series of knock-on effects for health and social care providers, which may end up costing even more; and wrong, because disabled people should be encouraged and supported to live safely independently.

“Institutionalising disabled people is not the answer to the social care crisis, in Worcestershire or anywhere else.”

Jim D Smith, secretary of Worcestershire Coalition for Independent Living (WCIL), added: "These proposals, if implemented, will undermine a generation of progress towards independent living and cause real mental anguish for individuals and families.”

However, councillor Philip Gretton, cabinet member with responsibility for adult social care, has defended the proposals. He said: "We must be clear that in no way is this proposal going to lead to people not receiving the care they need; all those entitled to council-funded social care services in Worcestershire will have their assessed care needs met. The issue is about ensuring that they are met in the most cost-effective way for all Worcestershire residents who have a call on the resources we have. We've shown with recent consultations that we do listen to what people say and so would urge anyone interested in this to get involved and tell us their thoughts during this consultation period."

Two public meetings, arranged due to interest in the council’s proposal, have been arranged. The first is at the Ecumenical Centre within the Kingfisher Centre, Redditch, on Friday, July 20 from 10.30-11.30am. The event will be hosted by Redditch Disability Action.The second is in the Link Room at St. Matthias Church, Church Road, Malvern, on Tuesday July 24 from 2-3pm. This will be hosted by WCIL. To read Worcestershire County Council’s consultation document, click here: WeareSpartacus’ ‘Past Caring’ can be viewed here: