Protest at Town Hall while council considers �55m budget cuts

Home care workers, unhappy parents and union members protested inside Tower Hamlets Town Hall last night while a cabinet meeting considered �55m worth of cuts.

The protest group, including representatives from Unison, the public service trade union, voiced their displeasure at cuts and potential council job losses of up to 500 by March.

At the same time, Mayor Lutfur Rahman and his five cabinet members, were setting out their budget for 2010/11 which includes cutting �3.7m from the home care service, �3m to go from children’s centre funding and a �1.8m reduction from housing for people with mental health problems.

Kridos Paulou, a Unison rep, said: “We are here because we are facing 500 posts being cut from the council by the end of March.

“These cuts will make a big difference to the services the council can provide.

“Home care is being cut and home care workers won’t be able to see as many clients, adventure playgrounds are to be closed down, mobile library services could go”

A home care worker who wished to remain anonymous said: “We wash, dress and give people the ability to lead a normal life.

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“My mum receives care like this herself, she is 85 years old and has dementia.

“She needs a continuous service – she won’t let different people into her house every day.”

The council plans to lose 90 full-time positions from its home care worker staff of 152.

After freezing recruitment since January and taking into account expectations of staff departures, 55 employees will be made redundant or moved to other council departments in 2011/12.

Home care worker Jackie North said: “Most carers live and work in Tower Hamlets so you are putting rate-paying people on the dole and vulnerable users won’t be cared for.”

The saving proposals for the Early Years and Children’s Centres budget will ‘have little impact on front line provision’ and ‘children’s centre premises will remain in use for community and under 5 provision’, according to council papers.

The cabinet also introduced plans to reduce costs of traditional residential care for people with mental health problems or learning disabilities and to encourage increased use of supported housing

Mayor Rahman instructed council officers to find savings from its budget for East End Life, the council’s newspaper.

Speaking after the cabinet meeting he said: “These cuts were forced upon us by central government.

“No-one wants there to be cuts but we have to work within legal parameters and we need to make a balanced budget.

“We want to protect frontline services and minimise disruption to jobs.”