Diane Lamb on Cuts to Adult Social Care

Peterborough City Council plans to cut half a million pounds a year for the next five years from adult social care.
Diane Lamb the Cabinet Member explains the plans.

08:10 Monday 8th November 2010.
Peterborough Breakfast Show BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.

PAUL STAINTON: Earlier we heard from a Peterborough mum looking after four children on her own, and a mum who has Alzheimers. She works, so she has to rely on day care centres. (TAPE)
MOTHER: She goes out to day care twice a week, and we have volunteer drivers come. One day a week generally she goes out with the Alzheimers Society. You have to pay for the volunteer drivers. You have to pay to access the day care. And you have to pay for the outreach workers’ time. Probably twenty pounds a week. And Mum gets worked up about things. But then she forgets about it. But you don’t forget about it. I need to keep working. If my mum gets worse or more infirm then I won’t be able to look after her. If you’re talking about going into some sort of home, she doesn’t have the savings that they assume that everybody has. I’m not sure what help you get. They should pay the fees, but you’re never sure about that. (LIVE)
PAUL STAINTON: The Council’s cutting it’s budget for adult social care by two and a half million pounds over the next five years, and it’s reassessing day care centres. That’s half a million pounds a year for the next five years being cut from the social care budget on Peterborough City Council. Well we’re taking a detailed look at adult social care today as part of a week of BBC coverage on the effects of us living longer. It’s going to happen to all of us. So let’s find out what else the future has in store for us from Diane Lamb, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care. She’s with us this morning from Peterborough City Council. Morning Diane.
DIANE LAMB: Good morning.
PS: You heard from that lady there. She’s really really worried that the people like her are going to suffer because of these cuts.
DL: Yes. I heard exactly what she said, and I can sympathise with her. But first of all, I want to tell you that we are not changing the criteria for getting help. So that’s a start.
PS: There’ll just be less of it about, yes?
DL: Pardon?
PS: There’ll just be less help around obviously.
DL: No not entirely. I can’t say there’ll be less help . there will be help for those that need it.
PS: Well there’ll be half a million pounds less help around every year.
DL: Well yes. But it’s spread over several things as you’re probably aware, not just one particular thing. We’re looking at various things. We’re looking at the day care centres, we’re looking, as you know we’ve started re-ablement, and that helps quite considerably to make savings without actually affecting too many people. Do you understand about re-enablement?
PS: Mm.
DL: Yes. OK that’s fine. But I don’t think she need worry. It’s very difficult for me to comment on one particular case.
PS: No I’m talking in generics really Diane. Because people like that lady are going to be worried by this.
DL: Yes.
PS: They’re going to see the headline figures.
DL: Yes they are.
PS: They’re going to see two and a half million pounds cut over five years, and they’re going to think, I’m not going to get the help I need.
DL: Will we get funding or won’t we. Well the answer is if they need it, we’re under a legal obligation to deal with cases like this. We have to deal with them. We can’t just leave them. So we are under an obligation to do it. And they will, if they’re entitled to the care, then they will get it.
PS: So you’ll just charge more?
DL: Well it depends on your .. it’s means tested. The costs obviously in everything rise. That’s normal. they just do. And up till now, most of the cost haven’t been at a normal level, or the actual level that it costs. They’ve been subsdised. That obviously, we will have to make charges in some cases. I don’t know about this particular lady you’ve just mentioned, because it’s a case on its own, and you have to deal with that one. Each one is individual.
PS: How much more are you talking here in terms of cost in a generic sense? Is there a limit to what you can charge for these services?
DL: Well in theory you could pay, if you’re a very wealthy person, and you wanted the services, you would pay the going rate, whatever that is at any particular time. It’s means tested, so it goes down. If you really have no savings then you won’t be paying.
PS: But you’ve only got a finite pot, surely, of money.
DL: Yes.
PS: And if a number of people, say ten thousand people, qualify next year, and it costs more than the pot you’ve got, what do you do?
DL: Well that is very difficult. It’s just like any person. If you haven’t got enough money to live, what do you do? You have to tighten your budget.
PS: So you’re saying you’ll have to take money from elsewhere, because you’ve got a legal obligation to provide this care.
DL: Yes we do have. And we have to, we just have to be clever, and move things around, do things differently.
PS: Yes. What about Joyce, we heard from there?
DL: That lady in particular ..
PS: The Alzheimers daughter.
DL: .. it’s very hard for me to comment on that .. on any particular case.
PS: What about people with Alzheimers? Should they be worried? Should their relatives be worried? Will they have to pay for their care?
DL: There’s no need for people to be worrying, and getting really upset about things. There are people that you can go and discuss things for .. to.. And if you actually are entitled to free services, you will get them free. Otherwise it’s a sliding scale, depending upon your means, basically.
PS: How difficult is it for you personally, and for you as a council, to cut the adult social care budget, when more of us are getting older?
DL: Well I had a fit. I actually had a fit when I knew we were going to have to make these sort of savings. I sympathise with people. I’m meeting these people every day. And I do understand, and I understand the worries and concerns that they have. But I’d like to reassure the people out there that basically we will do our absolute damnest to make sure they get the services they need, and are entitled to.
PS: Is it just a case mainly of putting plans in place to do things slightly differently?
DL: That’s part of it.
PS: Intervention services.
DL: That’s part of it, early intervention and prevention, re-enablement and personalised services. Those are the things that we are reviewing our budget and using our key principles to try and do things slightly differently. And there will be a slight rise in costs for some of our services. As you know, I’m sure you know, day centres, we are reviewing them. And that’s because not many people now use day centres. There are other things they go to.
PS: Can you understand why people might be worried, though?
DL: I can. I can. I would be if I were in that situation. Yes I can understand. But I think the public need to be reassured. It isn’t all the doom and gloom. We just have to do things differently, and cleverly, I suppose, more cleverly, and move things around. That’s how money works. You do have to move it round. If you’re a housewife, I’m sure there must be hundreds and thousands of housewives out there who hold a budget. And they have to know if they need to buy certain .. they’ve got to buy food, they’ve got to have fuel, and all the rest of it. They can’t go out and splash on some expensive holiday, maybe, in the next year or two. They have to tighten their budgets, just as the Council does.
PS: Diane, thank you for that. Diane Lamb, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care at Peterborough City Council.