Deputy leader reassures councillors over potentially ‘frightening’ social care savings

Islington Town Hall. Photograph: Islington Council.

The deputy leader of Islington council has moved to reassure her colleagues over potentially “frightening” changes to adult social care in the borough over the next few years.

The council has set out plans as part of its three-year budget to conduct annual reviews of residents’ care packages, predicted to result in £2.85m of savings between 2019 and 2022, with just over £1.5m predicted to be found in 2019-20.

Cllr Janet Burgess (Lab, Junction), executive member for health and social care, and deputy leader of the council, addressed a packed Town Hall meeting, underlining that the savings did not represent a straight cut to vulnerable residents’ care.

Instead, she said, they resulted from an approach which in social service terms was “the holy grail, producing better services and saving money”.

Cllr Burgess added: “Some of you might have been a bit taken aback by the enormous sums involved. It sounds a bit frightening.

“I would like to reassure councillors that social services are not cutting services to its residents, but we’re going about it in a different way.

“A review of care packages sounds a bit scary, but the work has already started on this.

“The story behind it is that everybody who gets a social care package is supposed to have a review every 12 months, and to be honest that hasn’t been happening as often as it should have been.

“Our different approach will be, instead of saying to people, ‘What can we do for you?’, social workers are now saying, ‘What matters to you, and what can we do to help you live your life the way you want to?’

“This is working very well already, and the social workers who volunteered to do it to begin with have been really surprised at the positive response they’ve got.

“People are now being helped to do things that they want to, and it’s saving us money at the same time.”