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Unwavering focus on protecting the most vulnerable through unprecedented budget challenges 

Published: Friday, 27 October 2023

Unwavering focus on protecting the most vulnerable through unprecedented budget challenges 

The response to unprecedented financial challenge is being guided by an unwavering focus on protecting the most vulnerable.

As efforts continue to bridge a considerable funding gap, the Chief Officer of South Lanarkshire Integration Joint Board (IJB) has explained energies remain channelled on identifying savings that, as far as possible, limits the impacts within communities.

The comments follow a special meeting on October 18, 2023, where South Lanarkshire's IJB agreed to proceed with consultation on its overall Value and Sustainability Programme.

Professor Soumen Sengupta, Chief Officer of the IJB, said: "At the recent IJB meeting, members were presented with details on a wider range of options that could be pursued to address an urgent in-year funding shortfall – including a number that officers were clear would not be advisable due to their potential impact on the most vulnerable and at risk within our communities.

Professor Sengupta added, "Following robust decisions taken by the IJB at that meeting and the careful action of officers, we are making substantive savings in a manner that has meant that so far we have minimised the impact on the communities we provide support to.

“The recurrent funding shortfall for adult and older people's social care for 2024/25 that we are facing is still considerable though – at now just under £21 million.”

As one element of a wider plan to address recurrent gaps from next year and onwards, the IJB agreed to embark on formal consultation on the future of two residential care home, Dewar House and McClymont House.

Lesley McDonald, Chair of the IJB, said,  "As an IJB we are working determinedly to respond to any potential concerns about the consultation, which we totally understand is about services that have touched the lives of individuals in our communities or the lives of their loved ones.”

Ms McDonald added that all consultation will be undertaken in compliance with national guidance and in doing so ensure impartiality under the oversight of an independent advisory panel.

"To ensure the integrity of the process and eventual decision-making, the consultation advisory panel will be chaired by a community representative. The impartiality of the chair will be reinforced by their selection being independent of the influence of any specific interest groups.

"Furthermore, to reinforce its independence, the membership of the advisory panel will not include individuals who are voting members of the IJB or elected members of South Lanarkshire Council, nor those who belong to or represent groups with an interest in the specific proposals that will be consulted upon."

Professor Sengupta added, “No decisions about the future of either care home have been taken. The seriousness with which we view our duty of care to the residents of these two care homes is unchanged. This is a responsibility that we will continue to discharge appropriately throughout the consultation process and beyond."