As reported in OnTheWight’s live coverage, residents walked out of a public meeting last night (Thursday) after the decision was made to axe an Isle of Wight community service used by 600 people.
More than 45 people attended the meeting, where the Isle of Wight Council cabinet voted unanimously to axe the Local Area Coordinator (LAC) service. The LACs support people in the community and aim to prevent the need for further adult social care intervention.
Call for deferment
Residents questioned cabinet members, with many asking the decision be put on hold until further consultation.
Clare Griffin, from Freshwater, said:
“Why has there been no public consultation on the proposal?”
Cost versus savings
A consultation by Southampton Solent University revealed for every pound spent on the LAC service, the council saves £4.30.
Speaking after the decision, Cllr Gill Kennett, chair of Freshwater Parish Council, said:
“It’s not cashable savings, I know, but if you could see what they do in our local community, I can’t think how anybody would want to get rid of this service.”
Mosdell: Budget cannot sustain cost
However, Cllr Clare Mosdell, cabinet member for adult social care, said the study was only based on 21 people.
She said the public health budget could not sustain the cost of the service — at just over half a million pounds each year.
Cllr Mosdell said she acknowledged the comments made by the scrutiny committee — which recommended the decision be delayed for a year — but added:
“We are not in a position to delay this for a year as the problem we have is immediate, and I cannot and will not have clinically unsafe services for the Island population.”
Savings go to other services
The money saved from the cuts would be put into other services, including sexual health and the drug and alcohol service, she said.
Scrutiny also questioned whether the licence could be tweaked, to make it more flexible to the Island.
Responding, Cllr Mosdell said:
“The comments we can tweak the licence have only been reported to the press, and have made me seriously question what benefit do we get from paying that licensing and being part of that network?”
Community builders will be put into Ryde and Freshwater, and an expansion of the council’s Living Well scheme, will replace the LAC service.
Speaking after the meeting, the chief executive of Aspire Ryde, Heath Monoghan, said:
“We will see a rise in deaths following this decision.”
The revised recommendations in full read:
a) To cease funding the Local Area Coordination Service in whole by 31st March 2019
b) Local Area Coordination Service will review all active cases to ensure safe transition to other services, information or signposting services or self-care as appropriate by this date.
c) No new cases to be accepted by the Local Area Coordination Service from the date of this decision.
d) To support provision for a transition fund whereby the voluntary and community sector can be supported to expand their current offer via the Living Well Service.
e) A task and finish group, overseen by the cabinet member, be tasked to review the work of LAC and other similar programmes and make recommendations to the Local Care Board about how future investment in programmes to prevent demand and develop community resilience is effectively used.
This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some additions by OnTheWight. Ed
Image: © Tom Stroud