Monday, November 16, 2009

Care and Support Services update ...

As predicted last Thursday, late this afternoon a supplementary paper was released for Thursday's Council Meeting concerning the issue of Direct Payments - you can find it here - which does indeed contain a partial climbdown.

But - by no stretch of the imagination - does it go far enough :-(

  • the level of Direct Payment being offered will NOT give any users real choice (see paragraph 3.7) ... those figures are nowhere near what is currently paid for (by the Council) for the delivery of these services and the reassurances in the following paragraph are worthless in that context.
  • Paragraph 3.9 makes it clear that all those applications currently frozen will NOT get the old rate but move straight to the new rate ... that simply doesn't see equitable to me as many of the applications have been on-hold for some considerable weeks.
  • and paragraph 3.11 gives the whole game away and is just NOT acceptable. It basically says that if the level of Direct Payment applications leads to some of the contracts (laid out in earlier reports) not going ahead, then that will be fine and us Officers won't bother telling you Elected Members any more.

Frankly, the whole process is now unravelling in front of our eyes. This just confirms what we were arguing at the Finance Committee a few weeks ago:

'Direct Payments' have been suspended for one reason - and one reason only - because if they hadn't been, then the contracts which are about to be awarded (if the Administration get their way on the 19th?) would not be viable in terms of scale and/or financially?

And now, this is just what is about to happen:

  • the 'contract process' will be pushed through by the SNP/Lib-Dem Administration on the 19th
  • they will though back off (to some extent) on the un-freezing of Direct Payment applications
  • applications for Direct Payments will thereafter go through the proverbial roof
  • most of the contracts will subsequently not be let, because they simply will not stack up financially
  • there will be no need to report any of this back to Council
  • all the angst, worry and stress for hundreds of service-users will have been entirely avoidable

And, I have to say, I think Officers have known this 'could' happen all along and were praying that the contracts would have been quietly approved at the Finance Committee a few weeks ago ...

... and, they would have been, if it wasn't for "our weird 25% rule" and the "student stunt" inflicted on the poor Finance and Resources Committee on the 27th October :-(

How different it all could have been - instead of pressing for a massive (potential) saving of some 21%, the Council could probably have achieved a respectable 10% saving via open dialogue with current providers and good consultation with present users.

But no - it's become yet another exemplar of "knowing the cost of everything and the true value of nothing" :-((

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