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Lancashire county council to cut numbers of homecare providers
LANCASHIRE county council has defended plans to cut the number of homecare providers to the disabled and elderly amid fears the change will reduce choice and quality.
The authority wants to slash the number of companies giving ‘domiciliary support’ to 5,600 people from 129 to 30.
County Hall bosses promise this will ensure consistent quality support and lead to better conditions for workers.
Critics claim smaller providers with a “tried and tested” record will be forced out by cheaper, large agencies.
Around 150 companies are expected to tender for a ‘preferred providers’ list covering the county council’s 12 boroughs, including Burnley, Hyndburn, Ribble Valley, Pendle, Rossendale and Chorley.
Walter Park of Burnley Over 50s Forum said: “We need to ensure clients get the choice and quality of care they want. The county seem to prefer dealing with a smaller number of larger providers for everything. There are concerns about this.”
Christine Fish, of Crossroads Care Ribble Valley said: “Our clients need to be sure they get the choice of provider they want.”
Pendle Tory MP Andrew Stephenson said: “I don’t want to see high quality smaller providers of home care squeezed out. People deserve choice and this seems the wrong way to go.”
Mel Close, chief executive of Disability Equality North West said: “They are going from 129 providers people have tried and tested to something that shows who can do it for the cheapest prices. Unit price will come out higher for smaller providers. I think they are just going to get squeezed out.”
County community services boss and Burnley councillor Tony Martin said: “Homecare providers and the county council agree we need to reduce the number of agencies. Any changes will need to be managed sensitively. We believe the new agreements will lead to an even better quality of service.”
Blackburn with Darwen is reviewing arrangements for home care services and will put forward proposals shortly.
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