DISABLED people across Worcestershire face being moved into residential homes or cluster-style flats under a controversial plan to save £200,000.
With spending on care packages for the disabled now ballooning to £50 million, bosses are going to offer people with physical or learning disabilities “cheaper” options as an alternative to at-home care.
About 2,000 people use the county council’s community care packages every year, which includes a mix of transport to day care centres, flexible visits at home and if needed, around-the-clock support with tasks such as washing, cleaning and shopping.
But council chiefs say the at-home care can cost up to £3,000 a week and they need to offer cheaper alternatives to avoid a “financial crisis” looming.
From September any new service users will be given less-costly care options which could include putting them in care centres, placing them in a cluster of flats next to other disabled people, or even offering them foster carers.
The most expensive service – at-home care – will generally be avoided unless families can contribute towards the costs. The changes have angered the disabled community.
Ruby Walker, from the Learning Disability Partnership, said: “Until now we have been encouraged to live in the community, but this policy suggests new users will be sent to residential homes to save money – it goes against everything the Government is doing to help people live ordinary lives.”
Brian Ferrow, aged 31, from Droitwich, who has learning difficulties, said: “I worry about where this will lead – it’s terrible news.”
The Conservative cabinet agreed to launch a three-month consultation yesterday and admitted it was a “sensitive issue”.
If approved, it will apply only to new applicants and existing ones whose needs escalate. Every year about 50 new disabled people apply for help.
Councillor Philip Gretton, the council’s cabinet member for adult social care, said: “We will still meet people’s needs, but it would not necessarily be in accordance with their first choice of care.
“This is principally about saving money – in many cases the at-home option can be very expensive, and we have limited resources.”
Councillor Simon Geraghty, deputy leader, said: “The key word here is consultation – it’s a complex and sensitive matter.”
The cabinet has pumped an extra £2.5 million into the service this year.