Cambs County Council director warns: Expect complaints to Ombudsman to rise as people challenge ‘difficult decisions we will be making’

Adrian Loades, Executive Director, Families and Adults.

Adrian Loades, Executive Director, Families and Adults. - Credit: Archant

A senior executive of Cambridgeshire County Council has warned that complaints to the Local Government Ombudsman can expect to rise as people “seek to challenge the difficult decisions we will be making”.

Adrian Loades, executive director of children, families and adult services, will also tell councillors that savings outlined today contain “an unprecedented level of risk”.

Mr Loades will tell the adults committee on November 3 that “as we reduce the number of people who receive our specialist and intensive support, it follows that more risk will be held within communities and families”. This will, in some cases, lead to people “being less safe and poorer outcomes for vulnerable groups”.

His stark assessment follows a day in which the council outlined the need to make savings – or create additional income- of £40.7 million in 2016/17 to balance the books.

In total £118million will be needed to be saved across the next five years.

He says the estimates are based on an expected 1.99 per cent increase in council tax each year – anything above that would need a local referendum, with an associated cost of up to £350,000.

The council will also be faced with the introduction of a National Living Wage – from next year £7.20 an hour- which could impact on the care sector which has “a strong reliance on a lower paid workforce.” The impact would be “significant”.

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Mr Loades said some care providers had already “begun to make representations” on this issue suggesting costs could rise by up to 10 per cent in the first year; others had told him they could absorb this.

However he said the council believed the National Living Wage was a “new burden for which government must provide additional funding”. He said the proposals now being considered would be based on the assumption that the cost of the National Living Wage “is funded corporately and is not seen as a service pressure to be met by adults committee. This approach has not yet been confirmed by the general purposes committee and the consequences of this national policy change represent one of the biggest areas of risk and uncertainty within the budget proposals.”

Already one domiciliary care provider had withdrawn from Cambridgeshire – funding being a key factor.

“There are quality issues in several homes, restricting availability of beds; several care homes are considering business re-positioning and have increased the council for major fee uplifts in the past year,” said Mr Loades.

He promised that although children, families and adult services would still meet statutory requirements, the level of help would reduce.

But he also warned that a number of the proposals being presented to the adults committee “will have implications for the health of vulnerable adults and older people”.

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