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Sussex care cuts force people to spend less on food and heating
Residents claim they have been forced to reduce the amount of food they buy, cut back on heating their homes and give up their safety alarms because of the cost of changes to their care provision.
The findings were outlined in a report produced by West Sussex Link into the reassessment of care provisions carried out by West Sussex County Council.
In the first year of the reassessments, to March this year, about 3,600 people in West Sussex had had their social care services re-assessed with more than half having their care packages reduced and one in seven having them cut completely.
The council changed the threshold for adults eligible for social care in April last year as part of a bid to make savings of £31 million in adults’ services.
The changes to provisions had been introduced in the face of strong opposition with a consultation survey revealing that more than three in four eligible for the care opposed the changes.
Following the assessments, more than one in 20 residents surveyed said they had a high level of unmet needs.
One in ten said that unless somebody else stepped in to help, their projected quality of life was worse than if they were dead.
Among the recommendations in the report, which was compiled after 74 people who had undergone the reassessment process were interviewed, the council was advised to put people’s needs ahead of financial concerns. More help with appeals to reassessment was also suggested and greater cooperation between the local authority and the NHS recommended.
Those undergoing reassessment complained that the appeal process was complicated and unclear and that life became very difficult living with the uncertainty of not knowing when, or if, their services would be changed.
A spokesman for West Sussex County Council said the authority was confident at the consistency and quality of the reassessment process in the face of “unprecedented economic and demographic challenges”.
He said that a fifth of residents had their care increased following assessment and that the authority was working with a number of charities to develop innovative ways of providing services.
He added: “To alleviate the impact of those assessed as moderate, we developed new preventative services available to all, including My Network, My Network Plus, the Health and Wellbeing Hubs and the Prevention Assessment Teams.
“We helped people to re-budget if they were no longer eligible for funded social care from the county council or received a reduced amount of funding.
“If a person’s condition changes, that person can ask for a review at any time.”