Devon County Council is to close all 20 of its residential care homes, in a decision called 'shameful'.
Trade union UNISON has vowed that it will not allow the decision to go unchallenged, adding that the decision by the Conservative controlled authority is a "shocking example of the devastating cuts being placed on the shoulders of the most vulnerable people in our society".
The decision will leave over 400 vulnerable adults with an "uncertain future" and will see over 1,000 employees of Devon County Council lose their jobs, the vast majority of which the union says are low paid women.
Steve Ryles, Devon County UNISON Branch Secretary said; “This decision comes after months of campaigning by UNISON, meetings with councilors and our members, and today we learn that these crucial front line services and the vulnerable adults the council are there to protect are to be left with an uncertain future and our valuable public service employees left without jobs.”
UNISON says it has campaigned hard to ensure the services are protected through the council's public consultations, however claiming that the council has "largely ignored those efforts and the risks highlighted".
Mr Ryles added: “UNISON has made it clear to the council that when considering whether to close the homes, councilors would need to consider whether the risks associated with a total withdrawal from direct provision are worth taking for what is a small marginal overall cost reduction, a warning they have clearly ignored.
“Many of the vulnerable adults within these homes live in remote rural areas, they are now faced with a huge upheaval which will see them ripped away from the communities where they have lived for many years”.
The union says that Devon County Council should rethink its strategy of pulling out from service provision altogether, highlighting what it called the "significant risks" faced by the council and the outcome from the consultation process, which shows widespread concern that the current proposals will reduce, rather than enhance choice and leave some people to fall through the gaps.
Joanne Kaye, UNISON South West regional secretary said: “This shameful decision made by Devon County Council is yet another shocking example of the devastating cuts being placed on the shoulders of the most vulnerable people in our society, these vulnerable adults are likely to face confusion and anxiety about todays announcement and the council will be left without a valuable and crucial service."
"Devon County Council’s proposals amount to a total and immediate withdrawal from direct provision of residential care and a significant withdrawal from provision of day case services to elderly and vulnerable adults.
"The decision has not been taken on a home by home basis and no consideration has been given to an approach based on rationalising provision into a smaller number of facilities.
“It is clear that the Council had already made their minds up, they had a strategy in their sights. The hard working front line staff that now face redundancy is just shocking news. UNISON will be asking serious questions about the impacts considered in this decision which is likely to see rural local economies hit hard where these residential homes are the main employer in the area”.