Saturday, 27 June 2009

You spin me right round, Mike Freer

Two Leader Listens in one day. The first one, called 'It's flu...' [unwritten subtext: 'Get over it'] is about the - mild - outbreak of swine flu in some Barnet schools. I would have no reason to disbelieve what is written there, if I didn't know how much spinning has gone into the second blog 'Beyond 5pm'.

This is about the axing of the sheltered housing wardens that the Cabinet voted for on 8 June, according to Freer a not uncontroversial decision [meaning: controversial].

To read Freer's account, you would think that sheltered housing wardens don't work outside the hours of 9 and 5 - they do - and that all they do is "provide help and advice ...check up on residents and carry out tasks like changing a light bulb".

He goes on:
"In recent years, support for older people has moved from funding people in care homes to helping people to stay in their own homes as long as possible."
Well, that has been one of the arguments for maintaining sheltered housing: that it prolongs independent living for many elderly people.

"The new mobile teams are likely to remain based at sheltered housing schemes but, for the first time, will be able to provide support for people living in their own homes. Support will be given depending on a person’s need rather than their location..."
People responding to the consultation supported the idea of meeting people's needs: that requires levelling up the service, not cutting it back for some.

"The days of a one size fits all council service that closed down at 5pm have gone."
I'm looking forward to this 24-hour, wraparound bespoke care for all... but we know that what Freer is actually about is saving money. It's good to live within one's means, but there are places residents would rather save money than sheltered housing wardens. And, as I said at the Cabinet meeting in June, why doesn't Freer become a campaigner for more money from central government, rather than just keep handing down cuts? He might get more people on his side.