Calls to protect West Sussex adult services fall on deaf ears

DEMANDS from some West Sussex county councillors for the authority to dig into its reserves to avoid cuts in care services have failed to win support.

The issue was raised at a meeting of the adults’ services select committee, which was considering the impact of the decision to stop providing financial support for people with ‘moderate’ social care needs and focus on those with substantial or critical needs.

This brought the county into line with the majority of other local authorities.

Cllr Bob Smytherman (Lib Dem) said members should accept this was not a very good decision, at a time when they were increasing the amount of money in reserves, for a rainy day.

“This is very creditable, but it is raining now for an awful lot of people,” he said.

Cllr Brenda Smith (Lab) said reserves were being saved for a rainy day.

“But some people feel they are going through a thunderstorm right now,” she claimed. “Quality of life has to be of prime importance – we are talking about people.”

Cllr Peter Catchpole (Con), cabinet member for adults’ services, said that when the budget was decided the reserves were set at around three per cent, which the auditor said was a prudent and reasonable level.

“If they are used for other services they are gone,” he said. “If we have to make further savings, we are in a worse financial position.

“If we have a hard winter, or another disaster, there would be no money to deal with this and we would have to borrow – and pay for doing so.”