Councillors’ £400,000 wrangle as Local Area Co-ordinators face axe

Local Area Co-ordinators (LAC) could soon be a thing of the past as cabinet look to save £400,000 by axing the service. 

Scrutiny committee councillors grilled cabinet members on Tuesday evening (November 6) over the plans cut the service in March and stop accepting referrals from November 8.

Some 600 people use the service across the Island which was described by scrutiny committee member Councillor Debbie Andre as a “cradle to grave service” for people in need.

Cabinet produced plans for a transition to other services with a review of each individual user’s needs to be carried out.

The service aims to help people who could be in need of further adult social care intervention if they were not helped – effectively taking the strain off the adult social care system.

Council leader Cllr Dave Stewart said only seven per cent of councils used the LAC service nationally but scrutiny member Cllr June Davison said those council’s had found funding from outside sources to keep the service going, so why couldn’t cabinet do the same?

Cllr Stewart added: “There is not a vacuum of need here. We are able to deal with this, we will make sure that the bodies we need will remain on the island during the period of transition.”

Cllr Clare Mosdell, cabinet member for adult social care, said: “We are not saying we are going to close the service and nothing will be done in the future.”

She explained that no money would be pulled out of the public health budget which funds the LAC, but the money saved from cutting it would be put into other services like drugs, alcohol and sexual health services.

Scrutiny Cllr Ian Stephens said: “No one has complained about them, the LACs are performing well…if you wanted to keep the LAC, you could keep the LAC.”

Cllr Stephens added that the council could “tweak the finances” to find the money.

Cllr Mosdell replied: “I don’t think you can tweak a half a million pounds.”

Speaking after the meeting Cllr Stephens added: “[This is a] false economy, because a saving of £400,000 comes at a cost of £1.6 million in extra work for GPs and hospitals. However, it is not only the money saved that is of importance, but this may actually cost lives.”

Scrutiny members voted to recommend that the proposals had not been drawn up based on full evidence, and the decision should be put on hold.

The plans go before cabinet on November 8 – and are expected to be approved.