Over the last 6 months we have been attending weekly meetings with local DPO Bristol Reclaiming Independent Living (BRIL) following the proposal by Bristol City Council to bring in a new so-called 'Fair and Affordable Care Policy'. This policy sounded remarkably familiar to us, as in Barnet (where our campaign was born) a similar policy introduction was attempted in 2019, so we had to try and do as much as we could to support the Bristolians who's Independent Living is under threat.
This is another example of public service management distorting reality at the publics expense.
Policies like these aim to save council budgets by moving older and disabled people who currently live at home with care and support packages above a certain cost, into residential settings. However, what they purport to be 'fair and affordable' is nothing more than a cost cutting exercise at the expense of the wellbeing of people who need and wish to remain at home. The Equality Impact Assessment for Bristol's proposal states:
‘the policy only formalises how adult social care staff can and should already practice’.
So, they are merely publicly stating and formalising existing practices. This is concerning because it confirms how resources, not wellbeing needs, in fact determine social care practice. This is both unlawful according to the 2014 Care Act and the exact opposite of what councils claim when signing up to visions such as Social Care Future’s.
Since 2019, our campaign has done extensive research at a local and national level into how councils behave. We have uncovered some deeply troubling evidence of unlawful and opaque operations, that only serve to maintain a highly unstable and uncaring status quo for social care. This is another example of public service management distorting reality at the publics expense. Our report series Unveiling the Truth, exposes how senior management (by way of these under-the-radar practices) control the PR image of social care to maintain good relations with politicians and avoid scrutiny.
We want to see Bristol and other councils stepping up and modelling how things can and should be done Nationally!
What we want to do with our evidence is to give councils the opportunity to do things differently. Our Charter for the Right to Wellbeing, which is rooted in the right implementation of the 2014 Care Act, would do just that. As a result of working with BRIL and following numerous discussions about the proposed policy in Bristol, we have translated it into what we are calling 'The People's Policy for Social Care in Bristol'. We have submitted this alternative policy to Bristol City Council (with the blessing of BRIL) along with our formal response to the policy consultation.
We, like all the other groups who are outraged by the proposal, are seeking the meaningful and REAL co-production of social care, both at the individual and strategic levels. We want to see Bristol and other councils stepping up and modelling how things can and should be done Nationally!
Councils often get let off the hook in favour of blaiming central government cuts, but the truth is they are a key part of the problem and until that is acknowledged nothing will change. As long as they continue to put resources before needs for wellbeing by pushing through terrible policies like this and denying any unmet need, government will continue to make cuts and get away with it!