Tories force through £460k of cuts to key social care groups

Barnet's Conservative councillors have forced through cuts of £458,373 to seven voluntary sector groups delivering early intervention and prevention services to adults needing social care, at a meeting of the Adults & Safeguarding Committee packed with members of the public and representatives of community organisations (23 January).

The services that have been cut include the closure of the mental health service for Barnet Asian women (BAWA), the only Chinese wellbeing service of its kind that exists across the whole of North London (Chinese Mental Health Association), and the peer support brokerage service provided by Inclusion Barnet - a local user-led disabilities charity.

Labour councillors voted against the cuts and criticised the public consultation which was conducted over the busy festive period. They also queried why the consultation had not been communicated in a range of different languages given the disproportionate impact on groups who might have been linguistically excluded from the consultation process.

Labour councillors also criticised the published Equalities Impact Assessment for its unrealistic framing - the reported impact on all of the groups was either "unlikely" or reported as having "no impact". This was in stark contrast to the representations the Labour group had received from many of the groups themselves.

Cllr Reema Patel, Labour Spokesperson for Adults and Safeguarding said, "The Barnet Conservatives have chosen to ignore claims from a variety of ethnic minority groups that cultural and language requirements would not be met if the services are being cut and we believe that is not acceptable. 

"We have a large number of Chinese and Asian residents in the borough - many of whom are elderly and vulnerable for whom culturally specific services are not an option but a necessity, and it is essential that the council listens to those from these communities who understand their own cultural and linguistic needs best. 
 
"In addition these proposed cuts undermine the importance of independence and user-led services and represent an attack on grassroots voluntary and community services in Barnet who often do fantastic work in supporting and standing up for the local community. 
 
"The stark reality is that the Conservative-led council refused in their last budget, despite repeated representations from Labour councillors, to apply the full social care precept which could have mitigated the impact on these groups. 
 
"This is being compounded by a legacy of successive cuts passed on to local government services by a Conservative national government that has consistently refused to fund social care properly."
Ends.

Notes:

1. A copy of the report on early intervention and prevention services can be found here (Agenda Item 10):

http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=698&MId=8675&Ver=4

For more information contact Cllr Reema Patel: cllr.r.patel@barnet.gov.uk

To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568

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