Socialist Worker

Sheltered housing residents express outrage at government cuts

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2257

Older people who live in sheltered housing in Sutton expressed their outrage at Tory cuts to their care and support today (Friday).

Residents at Crownbourne Court in the south London borough are organising against the attacks on their care.

Their care has been outsourced to a private company. The residents have had their carers, some of them they’ve known for over 15 years, taken away without consultation.

But they’re not taking the attacks lying down. One resident at Crownbourne Court is Dr Stanley Monick, and he is organising residents and workers to take on the council plans.

This morning health minister and local Lib Dem MP Paul Burstow was due to visit the flats and meet the residents. Stanley organised a meeting and a question and answer session to give service users the chance to hold the MP to account. Disgracefully, he didn’t show.

This only served to anger people further, and the meeting went ahead.

Stanley told the meeting, “There was no consultation whatsoever with anyone and the council refused to send a representative here. We have been treated with a callous insensitivity.

“The most vulnerable are being targeted while the council has spent £17 million on refurbishing the civic offices.”

The meeting heard from residents, ex-workers and carers in the local community.

On carer said, “The NHS went down the route of paying for agency staff and now councils are doing the same. It costs more and the people needing the care have less control.”

Another said, “There were no handovers to the new staff, there was no discussion of the care plan for residents. So new staff don’t know about the people they’re looking after.”

Dilys, a resident at Crownbourne said, “We used to know when our carers were coming and how long for. But now lots of people are left in the dark. I’m lucky, but other people are not the same.”

Another resident said, “I have eye problems and have to use drops and creams. Now my hours of care have changed I struggle to use my medication at the right times. “

One woman who used to work with the residents before the private company was brought in said, “It’s the system that we’re attacking, not the workers.” Everybody nodded in agreement.

The head of housing at Sutton homes was in the meeting. She tried to say that many of the carers are the same, just employed differently but she was shouted down.

“No, no, they’re not the same carers, I used to work here and so did he,” pointing at a man in the room, “But we’re gone now. The care has been taken out of care”

Many were furious Burstow hadn’t come. Dilys said, “His office say he is always open to speaking to us. But where is he? I think he should have come. How are we supposed to get to his office, or even go about making an appointment? It’s a disgrace.”

People in the room raised their hands in agreement.

Stanley told Socialist Worker, “This is provision of care based on profit, not on compassion. This is neo-liberalism. I have no faith in Sutton council whatsoever. I’m hoping we can give people the confidence to speak up.”

And to the minister Paul Burstow he sent this message, “When are you going to live up to your responsibilities in representing your constituents who oppose the neo-liberal policies of the government instead of being a lackey for the attacks on the most vulnerable devised by your Tory masters?”

Stanley joined the TUC demonstration on 26 March and wants to keep fighting. “We need to bring together everyone affected—students, workers and people who rely on the services.”

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Article information

Fri 24 Jun 2011, 17:21 BST
Issue No. 2257
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