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Councillor warns of reckless rush to privatise care

November 18, 2016 7:33 PM

Leader of Leeds Lib Dem council group Cllr Stewart Golton (Rothwell) has warned that administration councillors are acting irresponsibly by rushing to close down council care homes including Dolphin Manor and Home Lea House in Rothwell.

A recent council meeting saw administration councillors vote down a proposed stay of execution for six care homes that the council intends to shut down. The proposal was tabled by opposition councillors and called for the council to keep the affected homes open for at least another two years.

Current council policy is to sell off all its residential care homes and instead commission places in private sector homes.

Cllr Golton fears that it is short-sighted to rely on a private care sector that is struggling to make money at a time of rising costs and reduced funding. He wants to see a better mix of care provision with much closer ties to the local community and more opportunities for social enterprise.

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services recently said that two-thirds of local councils have seen contracts handed back or providers leave the market.

Cllr Stewart Golton (Lib Dem, Rothwell) said:

"The council is rushing into care home closures and I am worried that we are setting ourselves up for a crisis in the not too distant future.

"It's reckless in the extreme for the council to put its faith in the private sector to run all care homes in Leeds. Private care providers are under huge financial strain with many cutting the quality of care or closing down homes entirely. 1,500 care homes have shut in the past six years and this is a trend that shows no signs of slowing.

"The council needs to work much harder at building up a sustainable care market in Leeds with a focus on locally based providers that have the community's interest at heart.

"The Council need to ensure that social enterprises are seen as serious partners in the city. In my own local area the council took the decision to close Dolphin Manor and Home Lea House, both well-run, well-loved residential homes who had a local care trust eager to take them on.

"The council turned the local group down when they knew the private sector was developing in our area, but that home turned out to be aimed at the luxury market. Now that the privately owned Ashlands is closing in Methley, people are facing very hard choices to get decent affordable care for their loved ones.

"The crisis in council care funding combined with pressures to maintain dividends in the private sector tells me that it is inevitable that we need to develop community run and mutually owned businesses now and at pace if we are to avoid a situation far worse than we have now."