Plans to cut adult day and respite services by Devon County Council are being legally challenged by a local charity.
Ollie Heptinstall, local democracy reporter www.radioexe.co.uk
The council is consulting on proposals to close most of its disability day centres, as well as one of its respite centres in either Exeter or Honiton.
It forms part of an overall package of cuts that would save Devon more than £30 million from its adult care budget, with the council previously saying it needs to find total savings of £45 million so it can prioritise spending on what it is legally obliged to provide.
Now the Exeter & District Mencap Society is calling on the council to halt its consultations, which it believes are “seriously flawed” and could be unlawful, or it will launch a judicial review.
A 27-page ‘letter before claim’ challenges whether the council is carrying out the public consultations lawfully and if it hasn’t complied with a section of the Equality Act 2010.
Bob Gaiger, trustee of the charity said: “We are extremely concerned that the consultations appear to be designed to justify the proposals to cut in-house services.
“The consultations and proposals are seriously flawed and provide no evidence to support the decisions that Devon County Council have taken so far.
“Parents and carers are being asked to complete the consultation documents and make impossible choices without any supporting information to help them in their decisions.”
The council says it will be considering its response.
The challenge comes after other parts of the adult care savings plan were criticised at a council scrutiny committee meeting, including a planned scrapping of the council’s £1.5 million contribution towards homelessness prevention.
An Exeter councillor said it would “massively increase the number of rough sleepers,” while local charities also hit out at the plan.
The county council also proposes to close its North Devon link mental health and wellbeing service, to stop its funding contribution towards the Wellbeing Exeter programme, and to consult on its carer offer.
Devon’s cabinet member for adult social care Cllr James McInnes (Conservative, Hatherleigh & Chagford) told last week’s scrutiny meeting that “these are very difficult decisions.”
He added: “It’s really important … we make a decision to make sure we are supporting the most vulnerable people in Devon and that Devon County Council is sustainable for the future.”