Care homes and day centres bear brunt of £70million cuts proposed by Haringey Council
PUBLISHED: 06:45 12 December 2014 | UPDATED: 16:45 14 December 2017
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Some of the most vulnerable people in Haringey will be hit hardest of all over the next three years in a raft of cuts as the council is forced to hack another £70million from its budget.
Council leader Cllr Claire Kober admitted she was “worried” about the effect the cuts - equivalent to a quarter of its remaining budget - would have on residents least able to fend for themselves, including those with severe learning disabilities and the elderly.
Haringey will have seen its funding from government cut from around £400m in 2010 to just £210m in 2018. With £117m of cuts already made to date, there is precious little fat left to remove and even a proposed radical overhaul within the council will not balance the books.
Cllr Kober admitted there was “not really an upside” to proposals to close up to three day care centres for people with severe learning difficulties, while Linden House residential home in South Tottenham is also slated for closure.
Osbourne Grove nursing home for the elderly, in Stroud Green, will be “wound down” and turned into a centre helping keep older people out of hospital and living independently for longer - part of a wider move towards care in the community over costly institutional care - although no current residents will be forced out.
"I worry about children and adults who use our social care services... But as I say, there is not going to be a council in the country who can make these cuts without hitting those services because that’s where our money is."
Cllr Kober said she understood why relatives of someone in a care home “would feel both anxious and angry” at the proposals, adding: “I think my job is to work to ensure that we come up with the least worst options, the best possible options.”
Describing councils as “social care organisations” due to the proportion of money spent in this area, Cllr Kober admitted the cuts will “remove services and resources from people who really need them”, adding: “I worry about children and adults who use our social care services. Whether that’s day care, or people who are currently in residential homes, for whom that is their home, and those who use other services they provide.
“But as I say, there is not going to be a council in the country who can make these cuts without hitting those services because that’s where our money is.”
The council has published a set of draft plans for the money-saving cuts, which will go out for public consultation next week.
Schools and teachers emerge almost unscathed as their budget is separate, but some of the other proposals for 2015-18 include:
- streamlining youth services to focus on health and training over leisure opportunities;
- closing Tottenham’s recycling centre, one of only two in the borough;
- closing Wolves Lane Nursery;
- cutting £500,000 funding per year from Alexandra Palace;
- offloading Bruce Castle Museum in Tottenham to a charitable trust;
- stopping the partial funding of Highgate’s Jacksons Lane theatre;
- withdrawing from managing Crouch End’s Haslemere respite centre for children and their carers;
- cleaning the streets less often and according to need;
- hiring out public parks for events more often;
- increasing parking charges;
- cracking down on traffic offences;
- overhauling the parks service to make it more efficient;
- increasing social housing rents (by £2.36 to an average £105.49 per week);
- offering more people housing outside of Haringey;
- withdrawing free advisory services;
- reducing consultation with residents on planning applications;
- creating a “single front door” online for all customer services and transferring as much online as possible.
On top of that, the budget for providing sexual health services will be slashed by £1.7m - almost a quarter - despite Haringey having the 11th-highest rate of sexually-transmitted infections in the country, with demand rising.
Council properties will be used to house more people in “temporary accommodation” arrangements instead of using costly private providers, and IT systems will leave library staff “freed from standing behind counters” to provide better customer service - although 12 redundancies are planned, around 15 per cent of the workforce.
Energy will be focused on intervening in problem families and young people at an earlier stage to stop their needs escalating. The long-term view is that early intervention saves money - the council estimates only half the number of social care staff will be needed by 2018, fewer children will require foster care, and so on.
A radical reshaping of the council itself will see more than 630 jobs culled - around 23 per cent of the total - and the remainder will be expected to learn new skills, take on greater responsibilities and secure working arrangements with other agencies to fill the gaps created by the cutbacks.
Other less concrete proposals include removing childcare subsidy and closing children’s centres to reach families who don’t currently use them, and relocating Muswell Hill Library.
The cuts are part of a highly ambitious and total overhaul of the way the authority views its role in providing services to residents. Where it cuts back on services or closes centres, it hopes to ensure that equivalent or better provision is available in some form or other - either by doing it in an alternative, cheaper way or having it provided by others - be that residents, charities, other agencies or a mixture.
But it’s not all about cuts. The council also intends to set up a private lettings and management agency, keeping fees and rents affordable and accommodation high-quality for middle and low-income families, in a bid to tackle soaring private rents and shoddy housing.
Cllr Kober added: “It’s important to be really clear about the future so that we can start a proper debate about what the council can and cannot do, how we need to change and how we can work with the community more effectively to fill gaps.”
+ The draft budget proposals and accompanying plans are set to be approved on Tuesday, triggering a month-long public consultation before finalised plans go before full council in February.
+ The consultation and a budget summary will be available from December 17 at www.haringey.gov.uk/strongerharingey and copies will also be available in local libraries.
+ Links to the draft Medium Term Financial Strategy and proposed cuts/investments:
- Overview and context
- Children, young people and education
- Adult social care and health care
- Environment (inc parks and parking)
- Employment and the economy
- Internal/corporate (inc libraries)
+ Is this the best way to save £70million over the next three years? Get involved in the debate on Twitter @tottjournal, on our Facebook page or by emailing your views to firstname.lastname@example.org.