Better Lives

Politics is about making difficult decisions

The decommissioning of care home which directly impinges on many elderly and vulnerable people and their carers is one of those difficult decisions.

Many people on Leeds City Council, including myself, have an elderly parent who we want the best for. Disrupting the lives of vulnerable is not be done lightly and only after careful consideration, consultation and when all options are exhausted.

We have to balance the impact we have on current residents whilst ensuring we are capable of meeting future needs for those who will need our support in the future.

In 2011 it was recognised that doing nothing to change provision of adult care was not an option and we have made many changes since then, including decommissioning of eight homes and many day centres in Leeds.

The MBI’s position is confused. In Morley Town Hall they call for no closures at all, in Leeds Civic Hall they talk about a reprieve for only two years. Why two years? Why not one or three? With the Conservative Government cutting £314 million from Leeds what will happen over the next two years to improve the financial position of the council?

The demand pressures on adult care are around increasing by around £20m per year, there are more elderly people – and the resources of the council to meet that demand are reducing, despite the extra Osborne levy on Leeds Council tax payers raising £5.2m this year.   It is nowhere near enough.   As we all know we are increasing every year the proportion of the council spend on adult care – 40.6% this year. In 2011 when I was elected it was 30%.

This cannot go on for ever we have to take a different approach.

The better lives strategy is an alternative approach and is about supporting people to stay in their homes or ensuring they have alternative models such as extracare housing to meet demand. I believe we will be bring forward proposals early next year to invest £31m over the next three years to improve our ability to meet future demand for extracare housing.

If we do nothing for 2 years we will incur another of £4.2m of costs – then we will still be faced with the same difficult decision about decommissioning of these homes. The economics will not change.

In politics as in life delaying a decision does not help. Booting this into the long grass will not make the decision easier when it comes, it will make it harder.

We have to recognise that demand for places in our care homes is dropping Siegen Manor has an occupancy rate of less than 7O%. Only 7 of the residents in Siegen Manor are from Morley. Our remaining care homes are well run and have excellent staff but we do not have the money to invest in existing or new care new homes. Only the Independent sector can do that.

We need to ensure we provide alternatives such as extra care housing and promote good quality private sector provision.   In Morley I will work to ensure we do have good quality provision to replace Siegen Manor through the private sector or with investment in extracare.

Cllr Neil Dawson – Morley South Ward

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