Homecare service to be saved for another three years after council switch

Tower Hamlets homecare service, which helps disabled and elderly people, is to be extended by three years after councillors had a change of heart.

The council decided in January to make a saving of �3.7 million by replacing its 166 in-house carers with around 50 “reablement” officers by 2013.

But after opposition from workers and patients, mayor Lutfur Rahman and his cabinet decided last Wednesday to not “draw down” the service until 2016.

Home care workers help people when they leave hospital, for example, with tasks like getting in and out of bed and getting dressed.

Reablement offers a shorter, six-week rehabilitation programme that aims to get patients to better care for themselves, reducing the need for long-term care.

Staff made a deputation to a cabinet meeting last month to voice their concerns and said cuts to home care contradicted the mayor’s stance that frontline services will be protected.

The new policy will cost the council �1 million, paid through a saving of �550,000 on reduced redundancy costs, �364,000 from an additional government grant and �86,000 from a lower than expected overspend in 2010/11.

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In the papers detailing the new proposal, resources leader Alibor Choudhury said the mayor is committed to maintaining a service that is “free to users as long as possible.”

A council spokesman said: “The main reason for deciding to manage the changes in home care over a longer period is to avoid the need for any compulsory redundancies.

“Based on what we know of the normal rate at which staff leave the service, we anticipate that staffing changes will be achievable over this longer period through natural turnover of staff.”

The council plans to make over �70m worth of cuts over the next three years.