Bucks County Council is currently consulting over the future of Thrift Farm. Thrift Farm allows adults with learning difficulties to work in a supportive environment. The users of the service value it highly and finding alternative provision for them would be extremely difficult, if not impossible.

The council would like to close the service and are again going through the motions of a consultation so that they can claim that they have followed procedure before closing down the service.

The only way that they are offering to not close the service is for a business to come along and save it. Their documents requesting a business case request that a provider should have three years of audited accounts and be able to show how they can provide a range of services, including running a farm, a cafe and providing adult social care. These documents were retrieved by the Labour Party from the Bucks Business Portal on 2nd April.

There was a meeting at the farm today about the service. The Labour Party have been told at that meeting the council are flexible about whether they have one provider, or a consortium, and they have said that they do not need audited accounts. If this is the case and they are serious about trying to save the farm, then why does it not say this in their documentation? If they are willing to look at a consortium offer then why won’t they provide assistance to anyone that would like to take on part of it, rather than making them do all the work themselves, when there is no guarantee of success. There have been offers put in, but the council is not being forthcoming about why they were not selected. Milton Keynes Labour led council has offered assistance, and this has been refused.

Nowhere in the original business case documents is it clear whether the council will pay for the social care that Thrift Farm provides. It is shortsighted to believe that if these people cannot access the services they need at Thrift Farm then they will not still need care that the council will have to pay for. When questioned on this by the Labour Party, no firm answers were forthcoming. Instead we were told that fundraising will need to take place.

Which business would take on this service knowing that they would be reliant on fundraising to keep the facility going? When will Bucks County Council take the social care of our adults seriously?

It is time that we stopped trying to outsource our valuable community assets. They are a vital service, not money making opportunities.

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