Saturday 24 July 2010

All Washed Up

While all the fury and outrage over the councillors' pay hike has erupted this last week, some other worrying council stories have also sneaked into the local press which perhaps have not received the publicity they deserve.

Take the announcement, in the local Times, about the new venture called 'Outreach Barnet'.

Barnet has pulled together vital support services for vulnerable people, ie the elderly, disabled and homeless - in order, it is claimed, to 'improve their chances of independent living'. The story says that 'staff will help people organise living in their own homes. develop independendent living skills and direct people towards health services or training schemes'.

Or, put another way, the 'downsizing' of service contracts, which is expected to make the council savings of £2 million, effectively means in many cases that vulnerable people, when they ask for help, will now be given a shove in the right direction and then left to sort themselves out.

Remember that heartwarming example set for us by self styled easyBolics guru Mike Freer, of the old lady struggling to do her washing up, because he says she has to relearn how to do it? Yeah. Can you imagine, ladies and gentlemen, if the frail and elderly mothers of our Tory councillors, or local MPs, were failing to cope with everyday skills, that they would be expected to take a lesson in washing dishes and left to struggle with such chores, so as to retain a cost saving independence? I rather think they would be bought a dishwasher, if they didn't already have one, or be provided with a paid home help to support them, or found a genteel retirement home to move to, don't you?

Of course this is not an option for the plebs, those people who have been punished for their shameful lack of aspiration by failing to attain the life style of say, a local councillor with a whopping great allowance hike. These sponging old folk must be frightened into a proud refusal to become reliant on support services by a sinister insinuation of what might happen if you let 'strangers into your house' to do your housework for you. Much better to struggle on in silence, isn't it? Don't worry, a nice Tory councillor will nip round to remind you what to do with a pair of rubber gloves and a bottle of washing up liquid (no, no, not that, tempting though it might be) and then clear off to visit his or her old mum in their nice new retirement home, with residential wardens in attendance, no doubt.

Kindly councillor Sachin Rajput, cabinet member for adults, who, like all cabinet members, has just voted himself a well earned pay hike, said of the new scheme: 'Everything we are doing is about promoting independence and choice for our residents ... this is about providing a better service with less money ...'

Ah! Choice again: that mystical, elusive, Tory concept. What does it mean? No one knows. Where is the choice, tell me, Sachin? How does a vulnerable person make an informed choice about how best to cope when they are struggling to look after themselves? What sort of choice do they actually have? Any at all, in fact?

Labour councillor Barry Rawlings pointed out that this move was hardly likely to offer improved support without increased levels of investment, and said:

'The Barnet Tories' priority tends to be saving money rather than providing better services, except when it comes to themselves, where they seem to be providing the same old service but for more money.'



baarnett said...

Before the serious comments come in -

A recent joke on TV's 'Mock the Week' was that Mr. Cameron is always on about CHOICE - but that his new concept "Society" only comes in ONE size.

Mrs Angry said...

Mmm: saw that! Freedom and choice, translated from tory-speak, usually means freedom and choice for ME and to hell with everyone else ...