Parents and carers have been left ‘severely disappointed’ after the Lewisham mayor confirmed cuts of £1.3million to adult social care.
Lewisham Mayor Sir Steve Bullock said that though difficult, some changes to social care were inevitable, mainly due to government austerity. He approved proposals to turn the Leemore, Mulberry and Naborhood day centres into community hubs where some care would still be available but the space would be shared with other organisations.
Sir Steve also authorised cuts to the Door2Door transport service. Carers are instead being given personalised budgets to spend on transport and care, although the exact amounts have not been finalised yet.
Speaking at the Lewisham Mayor and Cabinet meeting, Sir Steve said: “A discussion like that is very difficult but one of the things that I am clear about is that some change in whichever way is inevitable.” Appalled by the decision, one family listening to the proceedings staged a walkout, calling the proposals a “shame”.
Nick O’Shea from Lewisham MENCAP asked the council to renegotiate its £248m in PFI debts instead of making the cuts. The idea was rejected, although councillors said they were interested in discussing the matter further.
Helen Bashford from the Parents And Carers support group told the meeting: “It appeared that the proposals were not about cutting 25 per cent of the adult day services bill but about closing down day centres. We all have concerns about how we will cope with the closure of day centres because let us be clear, these proposals will close them.”
She later said that a lot of what was said by councillors had been “complete fabrication” before she rushed to look after her daughter with cerebral palsy who suffered an epileptic fit. “People with intense needs will be looked after, people with challenging needs will be looked after but the vast majority have mainstream learning disabilities who will not be looked after,” she said.
The mayor concluded the meeting on Wednesday by saying there would be reports on the transition period from officers every four weeks. “I know that’s not what many of you wanted to hear but this is not the end of the story. This is not the closure of the day centres. I believe the day centres have a very important role. We want them to continue to do that.”
Joy Rugman, who looks after her brother John who has Down’s Syndrome, said: “I am really shocked and saddened but the fight goes on.”