You may have already read that East Sussex County council have launched a public consultation on cuts to the adult social care budget. Having looked at the proposals in depth it is going to be very hard to convey in 500 words just how much of an impact these cuts will have on our town and the level of social services that will be available to us. Bear in mind also that this is only the first wave of cuts, there will be more to come.
The main areas of cuts will be in three areas. ‘Supporting People’ services will see the following cuts: sheltered housing schemes 100%, supported accommodation 35%, accommodation for homeless teenagers 50%, people with learning difficulties 100%, people with mental health issues 100%, people who are homeless with complex needs 100%, refuge service 20%, young mothers 24%.
Services that ESCC fund the voluntary sector to provide will see several service providers close as all of their funding comes from ESCC and will be removed. These services include the Terence Higgins Trust and Autism Sussex. Other voluntary services such as the Stroke Association, East Sussex Disability Association, Alzheimers Society, Southdown Housing, Age Concern, Age UK, RVS, Action for the Blind, East Sussex Hearing Resource Centre, East Sussex Vision Care, and The Sussex Deaf Association will also see ESCC funding slashed or completely removed, although they also receive funding from other sources so may be able to carry on.
The third area where cuts will be made is in drug and alcohol prevention services for adults and children.
With this level of cuts to vital services and housing for vulnerable people being made, if you think libraries, community centres, or any of the other services we have come to expect are safe then you are kidding yourself.
The consultation seems to be a bit of a smokescreen in my opinion. Firstly, the language used is that of ‘savings to be made’. Do not be fooled. These are cuts to frontline services, we are not talking about saving money on office supplies here. Secondly, the areas where ESCC want to make cuts have already been identified. When they announce the cuts formally next year we will be told that it was decided by public consultation. What they actually mean is that they decided what cuts would be made and we commented. What we really need is for ESCC to stand up to the government and make it clear that these cuts are unsustainable if we want to keep the society we love. Homeless teenagers, people with disabilities left without support, people with addictions with nowhere to turn – this is the world we will be living in within a few years unless we, and our county council say no and fight the cuts any way we can. If you want to join the fight the next Eastbourne People’s Assembly Meeting is 11th November, upstairs at the Bibendum Bar, 1 Grange Rd, Eastbourne 7-9pm.
View the consultation document and have your say at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/ascbudget