Disability Rights,  UK Politics

Warnings over impact of cuts on elderly and disabled people

Cuts to the revenue local authorities receive from central Government is hitting support for the sick and disabled.  A report in today’s Independent lists some of the ways in which services are being cut around the country:

Darlington council will tighten its criteria to provide care only to those classed as critical and substantial from December after cutting its adult social care budget by 10 per cent. Rochdale intends to stop funding moderate needs as part of a drive to save £45m by 2015. The plans are currently out to consultation with a final decision due in January.

David Rogers, chairman of the Local Government Authority’s Community Wellbeing Board, warned:

“Local authorities are already facing a £1.89bn reduction in social care budgets and increasing demand from a rapidly ageing population. Unless this growing and immediate funding crisis is addressed things are going to get much worse.”

Another report, published by the Hardest Hit coalition, demonstrates the effects the cuts are having on those with disabilities. Key findings include (pdf):

  • 8 in 10 disabled people claim losing their Disability Living Allowance (DLA) would drive them into isolation, and would leave them struggling to manage their condition.
  • 9 in 10 fear that losing DLA would be detrimental to their health
  • More than three-quarters said their health got worse as a result of the stress caused by their Work Capability Assessment (WCA) for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Nearly 9 in 10 welfare advisers said the constant reassessments for benefits are damaging people’s health
  • 9 in 10 welfare advisers said that too many disabled people are slipping through the net and are left without adequate support by the welfare system.

A recent Guardian report pinpointed three groups who will be hit especially hard by the new universal credit system:

Three groups are particularly at risk, according to the report: 100,000 disabled children stand to lose up to £28 a week directly; 230,000 severely disabled people who do not have another adult to assist them are at risk of losing £28-£58 a week; and up to 116,000 disabled people who work could lose about £40 a week as the disability element of working tax credits is subsumed into the new scheme.

This response to such concerns was unhelpful.

Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey said: “There’s a lot of misleading stories about the impact of our welfare reforms on disabled people. The truth is, the UK continues to be a world-leader in the rights for disabled people – as so wonderfully showcased by the Paralympics.

Yes, a good performance at the Paralympics does reflect well on a country’s support for disabled people – but it is future athletes, not today’s winners, who will be affected by these cuts, and the commission of enquiry referred to in the Guardian story was led by Paralympic gold medallist and crossbench Peer Lady Grey-Thompson.

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