Somerset scrutiny meeting puts learning disability cuts under the microscope

Plans to outsource Somerset’s learning disability service (LDS) to the national company Dimensions are to come under fire this Wednesday (1 March 2017) at a county council scrutiny committee.

Councillors on the committee will examine the case put forward by the cabinet to see whether Dimensions’ plan aligns with the service that staff and service users were promised.

A last-minute push from opposition councillors got the transfer onto the scrutiny committee agenda, which will now hear testimony from LDS workers as well as service users and their carers.

Affected groups are up in arms about cuts to staff numbers, pay and conditions. Dimensions, who are proposed to take over the service on 1 April 2017, have also suggested day centres will be closed.

In testimonies submitted before the meeting, one LDS staff member said:

“I feel they’ve gone back on their word and I don’t know what my job or my finances are going to look like after Dimensions make their cuts. The transfer date is approaching and it doesn’t feel like anything has been sorted. I didn’t sign up to see the jobs of me and my colleagues at risk and my wages reduced”

Another LDS staff member wrote:

“I don’t want to leave the area but if I can’t afford to live here after Dimensions take over I’ll have to move. I’m not the only one thinking this and the LDS will be at risk of losing experienced and skilled staff, undermining the continuity of care that service users were promised in the consultation”

UNISON organiser Tom Kennedy-Hughes said:

“It’s clear from the growing outcry that staff and service users won’t accept a transfer based on cuts and closures. The cabinet need to listen to their residents and push back the date of the transfer from the unrealistic 1 April deadline.

“Following the rally outside the county council meeting last month, the councillor responsibly for the service, William Wallace, didn’t provide real answers at the meeting and has since failed to produce his promised written response.

“This isn’t good enougn for concerned staff who are worried about seeing their wages cut, jobs disappear, and the service they care deeply about going downhill”


Further info

  • The Policies, Adults and Health scrutiny committee meets at 09:30 on 1 March 2017, in the Luttrell Room of County Hall
  • Liberal Democrat councillor Hazel Prior-Sankey chairs the committee
  • You can write to your Somerset county councillor using the Template letter to Somerset councillors