ONE of Worcestershire's most senior Tory politicians has broken ranks by saying she wants Government cuts "to stop" - and has revealed she is "hurting" over the impact it is having on adult care.
Councillor Sheila Blagg, a cabinet member at Worcestershire County Council, says "huge amounts" of spending is being taken out of adult social care and has called for it to be halted.
It is the most direct criticism of the Government since Councillor Adrian Hardman, the Tory leader, co-signed a letter to The Observer newspaper in June 2013 which said councils had "bore the brunt" of cuts and "for the sake of the public" it could not continue.
Cllr Blagg has published a report saying:
- By 2020 the number of over 65s in Worcestershire will increase by 30,000 and over 85s will surge by 6,000
- By 2025 as a result of that an extra 8,000 people need some form of personal care
- An additional 15,000 will need "help with household tasks", of which many will qualify for taxpayer-funded visits
- The estimated growth in demand is "clearly unaffordable" and can only be tackled by huge streamlining with the likes of the NHS
Bosses at County Hall have to slash £13.2 million from adult care spending by March next year and are trying to align as many health-based services as possible with the NHS, driven by a circle of reduced Government funding and rising demand.
It is part of a wider plan to save £32 million from adult social care in a five-year blueprint.
Cllr Blagg, who is the elected boss of the council's adult social care services, said: "We are all struggling in local authorities - we've taken huge amounts of cuts over the last three years as part of the (Government's) comprehensive spending review and it's hurting in all areas.
"It is tough and we'd like it to stop.
"We have to make sure we do everything we can to ensure we meet our statutory duties."
She said the only solution was to keep talking with the health service about closer integration and work with the likes of hospices.
"We need to absolutely show how much we value what they do and bring them into our discussions," she said.
"When we go through our integration programme we need to make sure all our health colleagues are on the same page."