Lincolnshire County Council leader Martin Hill has dismissed fears home care services could be slashed as the authority looks to make savings of £170million in the next four years.
Coningsby-based Colin Mair - the leader of UKIP at County Hall - claims lives of elderly and vulnerable residents will be put at risk because of the scale of cut backs.
Coun Mair says the council has handed responsibility for delivering home care services to 12 private companies.
However, he warns the criteria for people qualifying for home care will be ‘toughened up’ and says care workers are already ‘leaving in droves’ because of the introduction of zero hours contracts and lower mileage allowances.
Coun Mair’s comments come just a week after he revealed subsidies to school and college bus services could be cut, with parents facing bills of up to £40-a-week.
His comments have prompted a robust reaction from Coun Hill who pledged any cuts to home care services would be minimal.
He said: “Although adult care services will not be totally unaffected, the impact on this area will be minimal and in fact we are proposing to spend more on adult care next year than we will be doing this year.
“This is one of our main areas of spending and a key responsibility for the council, with an ageing population and a trend of increasing demand.”
In a further statement, a spokesman for the County Council denied Coun Mair’s claims that the qualifying critieria for home care would change.
He said: “LCC has not and does not intend to ‘toughen up’ our criteria for services. These are set nationally under the Care Act 2014 and cannot be changed by local councils.”
The spokesman also dismissed the suggestion that private companies were driving home care policy.
He added: “What they are doing is delivering services that contribute to the council meeting its statutory obligations.
“The council contracts 12 providers to deliver care. Until last year, the council contracted with more than 70 different providers. With fewer contractors, this allows more time to manage the contracts.”
However, the spokesman did not deny that some workers were on zero hours contracts.
He said: “Each of the 12 providers has been given a guaranteed volume of work by the council, which enables them to offer permanent contracts.
“However zero hour contracts are legally allowed and anecdotally many carers prefer to not have to guarantee the time they will be available.
“Providers need to meet all their legal requirements as employers and our rates enable them to do so. This includes them being compliant with the National Minimum Wage, which covers the requirements of travel to and from calls.”
Over 10,000 people work in the care sector in Lincolnshire.
The care sector is one of the biggest employers in the county, involving more than 10,000 people.
working in the sector. With this number there are likely to be changes in workforce and we have taken steps to try to stablise it. The council’s new home care contracts are designed to offer the providers stability in their workload which will help them to retain staff. The council is working with Lincolnshire Care Association, which represents care providers, to develop the workforce. We’re also working with schools and colleges to promote careers in the care sector to young people looking for employment.
Also claims that a lot of nursing homes are getting rid of nursing staff (because of cost) and are now just offering care. As a result, people are having to move elderly relatives to alternative accommodation.
Rather than a willingness to pay for nurses, this issue is related to the availability of nurses, which is limited not just in Lincolnshire but nationally. This is compounded locally by the rurality of Lincolnshire.
. “Home care is being slashed with the so called ‘Gateway’ which qualifies people for access to care being considerably narrowed.
The private companies supplying home care and care homes are under increasing financial pressure. As examples, I know of cases where carers do not know from one week to the next how many hours they will be working, with on some weeks them not earning enough to pay for their own child care costs.
“I know of a local nursing home that has got rid of its nurses and is now a care home with residents being told to go elsewhere if they want nursing care.