It's unfair and cruel

AS OF now, up to 4,500 vulnerable adults with moderate needs will lose their care benefits.

That many other councils do not provide support for people with moderate needs is not in itself a reason for our county not to do so.

That these people who are among the least able to deal with this dramatic change in their circumstances at such short notice and with only limited alternative ‘support’ in place is not only unfair, it is cruel.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

The reason it is cruel is because these people find dealing with change much more difficult than the rest of us and need the support of people they know and trust to help them achieve a decent quality of life.

Much has been made of the need to reduce the West Sussex budget by £79m over the next three years.

There is no doubt that for many years the county has been at the bottom of the funding pile.

This is most clearly exposed in another field: some authorities provide schools with almost twice as much funding per pupil as West Sussex has been able to.

However, it is rather sad that our council has said little about how that £75m was arrived at, what reserves are available to carry us over this difficult period and whether alternative sources of funding have been vigorously pursued.

On the last point there was a very interesting article in a national newspaper a couple of weeks ago.

The thrust of the piece was that an authority had to find significant savings.

However, after some investigation the savings needed dropped significantly.

Due, we were told to the sudden arrival of some programme funding and a recalculation of the budget!

Like many of your readers I have just received my rates demand.

With it came the usual statement from West Sussex County Council.

The leader of the council, in her introduction, says: “We cannot do everything for everybody but we are determined to protect the most vulnerable.”

Who, other than children, (budget reduced by £0.3m between 2010-11 and 2011-12) are more vulnerable than adults with special needs (budget reduced by £8.9m in the same period)? I would have thought that living in a community which provided support to those with moderate needs should be a matter of pride: clearly not in the corridors of County Hall.

Another concern is that by withdrawing support from adults who need only modest support now is storing up problems for the future: many of these people will end up needing more support later on.

It is not just about the money.

These people are just like you and me but who through no fault of their own they and their families need our help.

Information and advice is fine, but the help our vulnerable adults need most is making that information useful and putting the advice into action.

John Thompson,