A range of adult social care services are facing the axe as part of the council’s budget cuts, including respite for carers and mental health support.

The South Thames Crossroads care service, which offers a variety of support for carers ranging from providing respite breaks of three or four hours every week to help with preparing meals and end of life care, is due to be decommissioned in March of next year.

From Friday: Meals on wheels may be scrapped in fresh wave of spending cuts

Wimbledon Times:

The budget suggests the service will be replaced with a domiciliary care service, and commission holistic carers from the voluntary sector.

Since 2010, central Government has been cutting the budget of local authorities by 40 per cent each year.

Merton Council still need to find £15 million in cuts before March 2016 in order to deliver a balanced bank.

CEO of the South Thames Crossroads care service, Stefan Kuchar, described himself as "saddened and disappointed" by the decision, which was only revealed to him a few hours before the release of the budget on Friday, October 16.

He said: "It’s been very sudden. It’s come as quite a shock really.

"A lot of carers will break down without our support. These are very sick and vulnerable people.

Wimbledon Times:

CEO of South Thames Crossroads care service Stefan Kuchar

"What I don’t want to do is cause concern and anxiety to people who are already concerned and distressed."

However, Mr Kuchar insisted that the company would be fighting against the announcement, adding: "It’s not over until it’s over.

"We’re here for the long haul. We have been around for 30 years and we hope to be around for another 30."

The service currently provides respite for 72 carers aged between 22 and 97-years-old within Merton.

Also facing decommission is the Imagine Independence charity, which works with adults with mental health issues and helps them with employment support, peer support and social inclusion.

According to the council’s figures, 864 people used the service between January and December 2014, although users who accessed a range of services would have been counted more than once.

The budget also mentions that a review will be carried out into the spending of the ‘Supporting People’ programme, which aims to increase the stability and independence of vulnerable people.

According to the document, this may involve "reduced housing-related support for vulnerable people by 17 per cent in cost terms. This affects the numbers we could support and the range of support we could provide.

"In turn this would reduce the housing options available to vulnerable people."

Users of the ‘Supporting People’ service include those with mental health issues, learning and physical disabilities, the homeless, young people at risk, teenage parents, ex-offenders and people affected by domestic violence.

Speaking on Thursday, October 15, before the release of the budget, leader of Merton Council Stephen Alambritis said that he was committed to upholding the 'July Principles' agreed on by the council.

He said: "In July 2011, in a full council meeting, we said we would apply some principles about how we arrive at a balanced budget. And we agreed that we would look after children and adults in social care."

Users of the South Thames Crossroads care service who are concerned about the decomissioning should call the service on 020 8648 9677.


Here are some of the other points in the council’s budget that you may have missed:

  • The council will look at other ways to fund serious case reviews following the suspicious death or serious injury of a child. Future reviews will be funded on an ad-hoc basis from other departments
  • Council tax will remain frozen on the same level that it was in 2010, and the council will continue to be the only borough in London absorbing the price of council tax benefits
  • Merton will begin sharing its Trading Standards Department with Richmond Council. 
  • Recycling food waste bags will no longer be freely supplied by the council but will now have to be bought. Supplying the bags has been costing the council £66,000 a year, but it estimates that only 52 per cent of residents use them.
  • The council will begin charging schools for collecting their recyclable and food waste
  • There will be a reduction in the reactive maintenance carried out in carriageways and footpaths, although the council are aware that this may lead to an increase in insurance claims
  • There are plans to introduce a coffee shop franchise across six libraries in Merton