Council consultation documents 'difficult to understand'

Kidderminster Shuttle: County Hall, Worcester. County Hall, Worcester.

A CONSULTATION being held by Worcestershire County Council on proposed spending cuts could be rendered "meaningless" if people are unable to have their say, according to leaders at a major Wyre Forest social housing group.

Staff at Kidderminster-based Community Housing Group have raised concerns residents will not have a chance to influence how key services for older and vulnerable people will be delivered because of difficulty in accessing the survey document and understanding it.

The "future lives" consultation seeks views on proposed changes to prevention, early help and other support services for adults and housing support for young people, currently funded by the council. The restructuring will aim to save nearly £1 million, as part of the authority's plan to slash its spending by £30 million during the 2014/15 financial year.

Nigel Fain, Community Housing Group head of care and support services said Wyre Forest was below the national average when it came to the number of people who had access to the internet and even if they managed to get a printed copy of the consultation document, the 18-page booklet was difficult to understand and complete.

He said: "The county council launched an online consultation on November 19 which finishes on January 21. This only gives 60 days, instead of the usual 90 days, for people to read and understand a really complex document.

"They will then be expected to give their opinion about how the remaining budget should be shared among other services such as supporting people with mental health issues, victims of domestic abuse and families in crisis.

"We have invited the county council to come to the district and talk directly to local people. They need to answer questions about how the cuts will affect valuable support services and how they are going to protect the most vulnerable in our communities. Unless people have a clear understanding of the implications of the cuts, the consultation is meaningless.

"Wyre Forest residents deserve the same right as everyone else in Worcestershire to have their say."

County councillors and staff will hold a series of consultation events for members of the public to attend, including one at Kidderminster Library, Market Street, on Tuesday, January 14, from 2.30pm until 4.30pm.

Speaking last November to The Shuttle about the consultation, Conservative councillor Marcus Hart, cabinet member for health and well-being, said: "It is vitally important anyone who has a view does come forward and take part so we can make an informed decision when the consultation closes. No decisions will be made until this happens and any decision will ensure those adults who are eligible for adult social care will continue to receive it.

"People can take part by visiting worcestershire.gov.uk/futurelives and paper copies are being made available in public buildings around the county."

Comments (5)

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8:22am Wed 1 Jan 14

kidderlord says...

Wyre Forest Community Housing should mind their own business. They are a non elected body who have grown far too big for their boots when they were originally set up to look after housing stock, not grow and set up as they have.Despite the fact they own our homes, paid for by the public when built through the old rates, there is no way we can comment on their behaviour, so they should keep out of local politics. The creation of housing associations and the inflated salaries they are paid should never have been created. Local councils should have been empowered to borrow money as they have to invest in housing stock.
Wyre Forest Community Housing should mind their own business. They are a non elected body who have grown far too big for their boots when they were originally set up to look after housing stock, not grow and set up as they have.Despite the fact they own our homes, paid for by the public when built through the old rates, there is no way we can comment on their behaviour, so they should keep out of local politics. The creation of housing associations and the inflated salaries they are paid should never have been created. Local councils should have been empowered to borrow money as they have to invest in housing stock. kidderlord

10:04am Wed 1 Jan 14

Wagtail59 says...

Let the Councillors make the decisions about cuts to services. What is the point of having elected representatives if all they do is pass on making difficult choices to the public. Politicians are always calling for strong leadership, well here's your chance. Best wishes for 2014 to all Shuttle readers and staff.
Let the Councillors make the decisions about cuts to services. What is the point of having elected representatives if all they do is pass on making difficult choices to the public. Politicians are always calling for strong leadership, well here's your chance. Best wishes for 2014 to all Shuttle readers and staff. Wagtail59

1:15pm Wed 1 Jan 14

Stephen Brown says...

This kind of consultation is always meaningless, as is any at WCC, because they ignore all such responses in any case if they disagree with what the council seeks as an outcome. It just a tick box exercise to satisfy statutory requirements laid down on them.

In respect of cuts consultation......as
king people which services they want to cut is turning it into a beauty pageant and is crass in the extreme. It's a ruse by and for elected politicians as they load the questions to get the responses they want to justify their own actions in supporting cuts based on a political ideology. An ideology that many do not support. An ideology based on a lie and filtered down to and at all levels to convince us it is necessary and a truth so that those who profit can carry on profiting. The 'lie is a truth' concept has been used to good effect by totalitarian regimes of all persuasions. Given the pathetic level of opposition going on in the council chamber and elsewhere in this country when it comes to politics and cuts, it is an apt comparison in my view.

Good on community housing for raising concerns on behalf of its client group.
This kind of consultation is always meaningless, as is any at WCC, because they ignore all such responses in any case if they disagree with what the council seeks as an outcome. It just a tick box exercise to satisfy statutory requirements laid down on them. In respect of cuts consultation......as king people which services they want to cut is turning it into a beauty pageant and is crass in the extreme. It's a ruse by and for elected politicians as they load the questions to get the responses they want to justify their own actions in supporting cuts based on a political ideology. An ideology that many do not support. An ideology based on a lie and filtered down to and at all levels to convince us it is necessary and a truth so that those who profit can carry on profiting. The 'lie is a truth' concept has been used to good effect by totalitarian regimes of all persuasions. Given the pathetic level of opposition going on in the council chamber and elsewhere in this country when it comes to politics and cuts, it is an apt comparison in my view. Good on community housing for raising concerns on behalf of its client group. Stephen Brown

4:30pm Wed 1 Jan 14

jflawson says...

Yet again a meeting timed when most people are at work .As we have that wonderful building called Fawlty Towers whops I mean Finepoint cant meetings be when working tax paying people who work for private companies that make the horrible word profit .Can have some commercial input into these
decisions which yet again will affect the vunerable in our society .

jim Lawson Rock Parish councillor & ICHC Supporter
Yet again a meeting timed when most people are at work .As we have that wonderful building called Fawlty Towers whops I mean Finepoint cant meetings be when working tax paying people who work for private companies that make the horrible word profit .Can have some commercial input into these decisions which yet again will affect the vunerable in our society . jim Lawson Rock Parish councillor & ICHC Supporter jflawson

11:52am Fri 3 Jan 14

BewdleyBugle says...

Amusingly (or not, as the case may be) the Future Lives consultation website isn't working today (3 Jan)
Amusingly (or not, as the case may be) the Future Lives consultation website isn't working today (3 Jan) BewdleyBugle

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