By Sam Rkaina, Local Government Reporter / firstname.lastname@example.org
Elderly and vulnerable people will be expected to take greater responsibility for their own care as part of a Bristol City Council cuts plan.
The council is cutting £240,000 from the £4.1 million it spends each year on supporting voluntary care organisations.
As previously reported, that means less money for 56 organisations in the city that provide services like day care and lunch clubs for elderly people.
Most of these bodies will see an average funding cut of three per cent from November.
But funding for 25 of them is expected to be removed entirely, and instead the money will be given to the people who use those services.
Then it will be up to those people to decide what their care money should be spent on, in agreement with council workers.
The authority hopes this will help make up the £240,000 saving, but it puts the focus on elderly and vulnerable people to find cheaper services themselves.
For example, the council says a lunch club with a capacity of 80 but only used by 60 people represents poor value for money.
It considers it poor value for money because it is paying for 80 places but only three quarters of those places are being used.
So instead that grant will be divided between the 60 people who do use the service, who then will decide where the money should be spent towards their care.
They could spend it on another lunch club, or on another service altogether, but it will be agreed as part of a care plan so the system cannot be abused.
The council has yet to decide exactly how much money will go on these “personalised budgets”.
Executive member for health care Jon Rogers said: “We wrote to all of the organisations in June to say if you meet the criteria we’d like to continue funding you but we have to make savings.
“There are 27 lunch clubs in Bristol and 20 operate with no council funding at all.
“There are a number of other services which do not appear to meet the criteria for a good service.
“The remaining 25 services haven’t got evidence that they provide value for money.
“A lot of people go to these organisations so you can’t suddenly stop them.
“We will work with them and people attending to find out what alternatives there are.”
“They will either have the money directly or the council will manage the budget for them – this is a really major change.”
The council spends £40 million on the charity and voluntary sector each year but this is not the only cut that is being made from that budget.
In total the council is cutting or completely axing funding to 30 per cent of the services in this area.
Overall the council is having to cut £70 million from its budget over four years as a result of the Chancellor George Osborne’s austerity measures.