Kent social care cuts affect thousands

Graham Gibbens Councillor Graham Gibbens said the council had to make less money go as far as possible

More than 3,000 people in Kent will be affected by cuts in social care services for adults in their own homes.

Kent County Council (KCC) will charge for mental health services, day care and transport for the first time and reduce other payments.

The changes, approved on Friday, will cut council spending by £3m a year.

Carers' supporters said the changes would affect the most vulnerable people but KCC said it had less money and had to make it go as far as possible.

The Conservative-run council carried out a consultation during the summer, writing to 24,500 people who use social services.

The changes will affect 3,400 adults receiving non-nursing social care services other than in a residential or nursing home.

FOUR CHANGES AHEAD

  • Introduce charges for mental health services
  • Charge for day care and transport for the first time
  • Increase amount of income included in assessment for charges from 85% to 100%
  • Reduce Disability Related Expenditure Assessment from £21 to £17 per week

They will begin to take effect from January next year.

Councillor Graham Gibbens said everyone would be entitled to an assessment to ensure they were able to pay.

"I do understand that people are concerned," he said. "We are in a situation where there is less money available in the public sector and we have to work out ways that we can make the money go as far as possible."

Peter Webber Carers' spokesman Peter Webber said the changes would affect the most vulnerable

He said Kent was among only 26 local authorities which would still support people with moderate needs as well as those with critical or substantial needs.

"This is all about ensuring that we can provide services to as many people as possible," said Mr Gibbens.

Peter Webber, of North West Kent Carers Support Service, said the changes would affect people at the lowest end of the economic scale.

"We are talking about possibly making matters even worse for people who are already in grave financial difficulties," he said.

"If we are to be a responsible society then we have to have a degree of charity at the very least and be sympathetic towards those who are having a very, very hard time."

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