The list of horrendous cuts for the most vulnerable adults and children in Salford is growing by the day.
In recent weeks the Salford Star has catalogued cuts including the proposed reduction of over seven support staff for vulnerable children at Springwood Primary School (see here), the scrapping of Ordsall's Humphrey Booth Day Centre for vulnerable adults (see here), and the privatisation of services for vulnerable adults at Buile Hill Garden Centre and at Ingleside and Hollybank residential care homes (see here).
Now, as well as the Humphrey Booth centre, Craig Hall day centre in Irlam - which provides support for adults with learning difficulties and complex needs - is being scrapped. 64 related jobs will be lost in adult social services as part of £816,000 cuts.
A Salford Council decision notice on Craig Hall, signed by Councillor Peter Connor, states chillingly that, "as far as possible people will be supported in their local community".
After a big campaign to save the centres last year (see here), parents, carers and workers' representatives are understandably livid at the cuts, particularly after Salford Council appeared to do a u-turn (see here)...
…But the decision notice states that the Council rejected the alternatives, "to continue the current service delivery" and "to achieve savings in another way", as "not feasible", concluding that "we need to proceed along the lines of the original proposal for Day Services as consulted on in 2011".
In other words, despite the campaigns, the statement from Labour councillor Jim King that "If we withdraw these services we haven't kept the promise that we've made" (see here), and despite reconciliatory words from the Council, the decision was a foregone conclusion…
"It is now apparent that the Council has had a clear strategy over the last twelve months to run down and undermine these day centres by stealth" says Salford UNISON's Ameen Hadi "The decision made by Councillor Connor makes this very clear.
"What the Record of Decision does not do is answer some very important questions" he adds "Firstly, what has happened to the people who previously used Humphrey Booth? Are they using another service? Are they spending their time at home isolated from other people? Are they getting any support at all from the Council? Who is deciding whether they should get support and what criteria are they using to determine this?
"Secondly, how many people have already been told that they can no longer access Craig Hall? What has happened to them, and what will happen to those they plan to move away from Craig Hall before September?
"Finally, where do they get 64 staff reductions from?" he asks "Such a loss of staff would have a massive impact on this service, the people who use it and their carers and relatives. Is anybody talking to these people and explaining to them just what this service will look like after September? UNISON has asked for Council officers to sit down with us urgently and answer these questions. I suspect that carers and relatives of service users will be expecting the Council to do the same."
The decision to axe the centres and jobs comes into force on the 22nd April, a move further criticised by UNISON's Ameen Hadi… "There is a distinct lack of openness and honesty about all of this, that in our view is disrespectful – not only to those who work in this service but particularly those vulnerable people who use the service and their carers."
Meanwhile, there are also proposals to cut three specialist social workers for young people with everything from physical disabilities to mental health issues.
These specialist social workers offer quality services to some of the most vulnerable young people in the city, but, laughably, they are apparently being axed because of their `additionality' – or the fact that they spend too much time with the children. And therefore aren't `efficient'. It's like some sort of weird joke – except it's not funny. It's tragic.
UNISON is labelling all these cuts, purely and simply, as "discrimination"…
"Government policy is disproportionately targeting people with disabilities, both adults and children" says UNISON's Ammen Hadi "And unfortunately the local authority is not taking this into consideration in passing on this discrimination through the administration of its cuts programme."
But then who needs to help vulnerable adults and young people when there are competitions for new bridges to run (see here), fountains to erect (see here) and more loans to Stadium companies, jointly run by the richest company in the North West (see here)?
*Main photo shows campaigners against day care centre closures last year