ADULT care services in Bury are set for a major shake-up — which could involve centre closures and privatisation.
A council report into how the services could run in the future states: “Staying as we are is not an option.”
The ruling Labour group needs to save £1.2 million by changing services for disabled and older people.
Centre closures and privatisation are being actively considered, according to a consultation document.
- Elmhurst Residential Home in Whalley Road, Whitefield, and Spurr House Residential Care Home in Pole Lane, Unsworth, which have a combined 69 rooms for older and disabled people.
- Grundy Day Centre in Wellington Road, Bury, which is for elderly people, — Pinfold Lane Day Centre in Pinfold Lane, Whitefield, which is for dementia sufferers.
- The Woodbury Centre in Wesley Street, Tottington, which helps younger people with learning disabilities
- The Positive Lives, Shared Lives, ReStart services, learning disability day services and the learning disability support team.
The document said other changes to this group of services had saved £1.4 million but a further £1.2 million must be saved, and listed three options:
- Option 1 is closing some services, which would mean there would be less of an impact on those that stay open, but could lead to costs in staff redundancy payments and paying for service users to receive help elsewhere.
- Option 2 is to outsource some services to the private or voluntary sectors, which could cut the bill by 40 per cent.
- Option 3 is to either form an arms-length body for care or to form a co-operative or social enterprise. This has been proven to work elsewhere in the UK, but it is “not a known quantity,” the consultation document says.
The document guarantees service users will always receive support, but it may be from a different provider monitored by a watchdog.
The council has written to trade unions, staff and service users about the issue and views can be given or questions asked by writing to the town hall’s communities and wellbeing department before August 31 or by e-mailing email@example.com.
A report will then go to October’s Cabinet meeting.
The council’s deputy leader Cllr Rishi Shori said no centres would be closed if people opposed the idea, leaving the two other options on the table.
He added: “This will be a fundamental change to these services, but our priority must be to look into the next 15 or 20 years and ensure we protect our service and service users over that period.
“Demand on these services is increasing while the budget we have is shrinking.
“The key aspect is to listen to people.”
But the proposals have been slammed by Bury Conservatives leader Cllr Iain Gartside, who said: “Some of these options are quite frankly shocking.
“They directly contradict the council’s top priority and duty to protect the vulnerable people in our society.
“They are also looking at privatising some of these services, which I find very hypocritical as they regularly condemn any aspect of privatisation.
“They should remember that they promised the Bury electorate to ‘keep all services in-house’ when they took control of the running of the council in 2011.
“There are various alternative delivery models available that would avoid impacting the level of services which I think are worth examining.”
Bury Lib Dems representative, Cllr Tim Pickstone, said: “Everybody understands that public bodies are under financial pressure and Bury Council is no exception.
“Our first priority must be to protect frontline services like the important adult care services which are currently under review.
“The government is giving the council extra money — £3.7 million — to help with demands on adult care so it is important that Bury is spending this in the right places.”