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The lesson from the Birmingham judgement – do the same as Birmingham Council, not the opposite!

I have discussed the Birmingham judgement (on 20th May, overturning Birmingham’s decision to move to supporting critical needs only) with a number of directors of adult social care and other key players, and very different views are emerging about what it means.

I want to make my view clear. The judgement:

  • does not undermine overall Council savings targets and means local government will get more money
  • does not mean adult social care will get away with lower cuts, it is not a victory
  • does mean that there is considerable anxiety and nervousness about how adult social care cuts are planned and delivered.

There is a negative and a positive response to this.

Negative – box ticking consultation and impact assessment, avoiding really listening, focusing cuts on those who are least able to stand up for themselves and complain

Positive – genuinely engage and listen and “co-produce” a new social care offer through this unprecedented challenge

Ironically, Birmingham’s open, listening, extensive consultation meant they were at the forefront of taking a risk on this positive route, and it was largely this that led them into this trouble. It would be understandable for Strategic Director Peter Hay, to now take the negative cautious line. However, Peter gets full marks for committing to continue with the positive route.

Jeremy Cooper, director, iMPOWER Consulting

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