Dementia service cut for being too good

AGE Concern's ACCESS service for people with dementia and their families was axed because it was too good, the Evening Star can reveal today.County councillors felt that the service offered to elderly people in Ipswich and in the Halesworth area of north east Suffolk was so good that it was unfair to those living elsewhere in the county.

AGE Concern's ACCESS service for people with dementia and their families was axed because it was too good, the Evening Star can reveal today.

County councillors felt that the service offered to elderly people in Ipswich and in the Halesworth area of north east Suffolk was so good that it was unfair to those living elsewhere in the county.

The decision was taken to cut its funding because it was not economic to extend the service across Suffolk, leaving those who do use it to rely on the council's own advice for dealing with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

Suffolk's social care spokesman Graham Newman told the Star that the ACCESS service was “Platinum plated,” but only served people in two areas of the county.

He said: “It is a wonderful service if you happen to live in Ipswich or in the Halesworth and Beccles area, but it is no use if you live in Bury St Edmunds.

“We just cannot afford to fund the extension of the service to the rest of Suffolk, so it is better to spend our funds equitably and ensure everyone has the same level of service.”

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Council leader Jeremy Pembroke defended the decision to cut back on social care services.

He said: “If you look at the council's budget we spend £70 million on transport and £26 million on public protection - but we had to make savings of £24 million during the current financial year.

“Most of that has to come from social care which is the largest single budget we control. The schools' budget now comes straight from the government.”

Mr Pembroke and highways spokesman Guy McGregor denied that social services had been hit at the expense of transport which had seen an increase in its budget.

Spending on road maintenance had increased after the Conservatives took power because they had been able to borrow money from the council's capital budget to repair some roads which were in poor condition.

Mr McGregor said: “Having done that we want to continue to maintain the roads - and we are actually spending the same as the Labour/Liberal Democrat administration in their last year. It's just that we are spending it more efficiently.”

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