Shocking cuts proposed to adult social care in Merton have prompted Age UK to launch a petition.
November’s spending review gave local councils the power to raise council tax by up to two per cent to boost adult social care spending.
However, council leader Stephen Alambritis and 24 other Labour councillors voted on January 11 to go ahead with plans to dramatically reduce the budget by £5 million.
As one of the major organisations supporting older people in the borough, Age UK Merton’s chief executive, Charmaine Bennett, said: “We were absolutely shocked at the decision by the London borough of Merton not to implement the two per cent council tax precept to protect vital services.
“We will be only one of a small handful of councils in London and indeed across the country not to do so.
“No one wants to pay more council tax but this will cost us all more in the long run if we don’t help people stay in their own homes safely for as long as possible or prevent unnecessary admissions to hospital – it’s senseless, it really is.”
Age UK Merton are increasingly concerned about the pressures being put on carers, with respite for carers, the number of social workers and review care packages set to be slashed along with meals on wheels.
“These are devastating cuts that directly impact on some of our most vulnerable residents,” Ms Bennett continued.
“These aren’t services that provide convenience, they are services which provide the most basic of human needs.
“What concerns us is that the cuts that have been presented are only the tip of the iceberg.
“There are cuts to so many other preventative services in the council for example within the public health team and we cannot understand this – prevention saves so much money.
“This will only cost the council, the NHS and taxpayers even more.”
Councillor Oonagh Moulton, the leader of Merton opposition Conservative group, commented that Labour’s internal divisions over their own proposed cuts to adult social care go to the heart of their failure in running Merton council.
Cllr Moulton said: “Merton Labour therefore have a choice: Get their house in order and deliver the £5 million plus of savings that they have previously committed to in order to protect future adult social care budget.
“Or implement the two per cent precept to compensate for their mismanagement and ensure adequate funding for the most vulnerable in our community.
“Labour’s incompetence and infighting is now harming those residents in Merton who are most in need.”
Merton Council were unavailable to comment.
Age UK Merton have more than 300 signatures on their petition to date but need 500, you can sign it here.
Image courtesy of Age UK Merton, with thanks