Thursday, 21 October 2010

Warden cuts: you think you're going to save money?

At a particularly vile Barnet council cabinet meeting tonight (apt, given what happened at Westminster this afternoon), the Tory administration decided to have another go at axing the sheltered housing residential wardens.

Of course, they say, the decision is not prejudged and they are going to consult widely - having full regard to all the relevant disability discrimination legislation that they fell foul of when they tried to make the cuts last year.

The funny thing is, the council sees this as a way to save money when the wardens are, in fact, a pretty cost-effective way to help elderly people to live independent lives. Many more elderly people than do could, if they felt bloody minded enough, ask to be assessed for care packages that would cost the council far more money than the £300,000 per year it expects to save by cutting the wardens.

This evening I found out that sheltered housing residents' lawyer Yvonne Hossacks is looking into doing just that: putting in for full care assessments for the residents who will be deprived of their warden if the cuts go ahead.

Here's what she has told the council: "we will be sending you the first tranche of requests for community care assessments and look for your confirmation that these will be carried out as part of your Equality Impact Assessment. Please note that we consider your estimate of community care needs if the warden service is reduced to be wildly underestimated."

P.S. Tories lie about their recommendations.

A small, cross-party team of councillors had been tasked to look into the different options for "remodelling" sheltered housing. At the Cabinet meeting tonight the Tories told us that the group's final recommendations were unanimous. I spoke to Labour councillor Claire Farrier afterwards, who told me that the report was passed "unanimously" only because the meeting that did it was deliberately organised at a time that she and the other Labour councillor, Gill Sergeant, could not make.

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