The council is publishing an unprecedented number of consultations as they seek people's views (yeah, right) on all the budget cuts, service changes, etc, they are trying to push through.
The Press reports:
Executive director Dexter Hanoomansingh told The Press the people who use his services are being asked to take part in four consultations which will affect their care in future years. The council is currently asking residents to respond to consultations on funding for the voluntary sector, a new charging policy for care services, the budget for adult social services and the future of sheltered housing wardens by January 27.Look here to see just how many consultations are live. I had worried about this as well, as I filled in the museums consultation last night. (I am saving the Arts Depot consultation for another day - although we only have till 17 January for it.) For people who are managing with a disability this could be an extremely worrying time - and at the least a tiring one. (Remember, too, that the government is changing the rules for people claiming benefits for disability, making it harder to claim.)
Bur Mr Hanoomansingh, who has attended consultation meetings with residents, says the number of consultations and language used is confusing for those most vulnerable.
The council's comment, channeled via Sachin Rajput, cabinet member for adults, is:
“The timing of these consultations is inextricably linked to the finalisation of the budget for 2011/12.I think it is more a case of the council ticking the boxes - Consultation? Check. Equalities Impact Assessment? Check. - before they go ahead and do what they have decided to do in any case. But under the table they must have fingers and a lot more besides crossed hoping they do not get a number of legal challenges to their plans.
“I can appreciate that there is a lot for people to comment on, but we have to have the budget in place by next [this] April and need to allow enough time to gather as much feedback on proposals from residents and users as we can. It’s also crucial that people are given the opportunity to make their opinions known. All those comments then need to be evaluated so we can devise a budget which addresses the enormous financial challenges facing the council.”