Plans which could see social care withdrawn for more than 2,000 people across North Yorkshire will be debated at a meeting next week as part of a county-wide consultation in the face of major Government budget cuts.
The plans could see North Yorkshire County Council withdraw social care support for around 2,600 people if it opts to aid people judged to have “substantial” needs rather than just “moderate”.
But council chiefs have stressed the move would bring it in line with 87 per cent of other authorities nationally.
The council is currently one of only a handful of authorities which makes social care support available to people judged to have “moderate” needs.
It is also proposing to make some changes to the charges that people pay for community-based social services for adults, including increasing the amount that some people contribute.
“The changes upon which we want to consult the public are things which in an ideal world we would prefer not to have to make,” said county councillor Clare Wood, executive member for adult social care.
“But we are obliged to live in the real world, and very significant financial savings are required of North Yorkshire County Council as the Government tackles the economic deficit.
“Having said that, we are absolutely committed to the maintenance of the very best adult social care that we can fund.”
The latest consultation meeting comes as a damning report from a charity revealed that the number of 15-minute care visits throughout the country is on the rise.
Leonard Cheshire Disability estimated that the number of “flying” care visits has risen by 15 per cent over the last five years.
Three-quarters of local councils now commission some of their care in 15-minute slots.
The charity said that the short visits “simply do not allow enough time to deliver good-quality care”.
A separate report also raised concerns that elderly and disabled people who receive social care in their homes are “vulnerable to neglectful or abusive treatment” because of poor working conditions for care givers.
Care workers face a combination of inadequate pay, high pressure and a lack of support, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said.
While care workers conduct many tasks similar to nurses, their role is viewed as “lower status”, a new report by the commission said.
The report states that the way care is currently run is “unsustainable” and called on local authorities to change the way home care is commissioned. In particular, councils must ensure that workers – often recruited through external agencies are paid the minimum wage, the EHRC said.
Katie Hall, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Helping people maintain their independence and dignity in old age is one of the most important things councils do and this report offers constructive feedback on the work local authorities are doing to improve a system that is widely recognised as being significantly underfunded.
“We should also remember that the Government is proposing a national minimum threshold similar to the current ‘substantial’ threshold within the next few years in any case,” added Cllr Wood.