Across the UK, Disabled People are becoming increasingly concerned that adult social care will bear the brunt of cuts in local authority funding. Just this morning, the Cabinet of Hampshire County Council voted for a consultation to begin on a new contributions policy that is estimated to generate between an extra 3.5 to 5 million pounds from increased charges for adult social care and affect over 5000 people in Hampshire. Those affected would pay on average an extra £1000 – £1500 per year.
Although a review of the policy had been planned for a number of months, it is only in the last few weeks that the main focus of the policy changes had changed from making the policy clearer and fairer to becoming focussed on income generation. The Personalisation Expert Panel, who had originally supported the consultation reacted angrily to this change of emphasis, and withdrew its support for the consultation last Friday. In a statement the Personalisation Expert Panel stated ‘The council must surely understand that service users and carers could not possibly co-operate in an exercise that imposes an extra tax on their fellow disabled people with the sole intention of raising additional income for the Council.’
Ironically, today, the Coalition on Charging, a group of 23 organisations representing Disabled People, Older People, and Carers wrote to all local authorities urging them to ensure that they plan cuts properly, fully assessing local people’s needs, longer-term consequences, and the impact of increasing charges for services or reducing access to essential care.
Neil Coyle, Chair of the Coalition on Charging said “Councils must not look to raid care budgets as an easy option again. Over the past decade access to care has been heavily restricted and charges for support have risen hugely. There is no more blood to be squeezed from the stone.’
The consultation by Hampshire County Council will begin next Monday on October 4 and will run until Christmas. Robert Droy, co chair of the Personalisation Expert Panel urged people to get involved in the consultation. ‘These proposals will cause anxiety for many Disabled People. However it is vital people exercise their democratic right to express their views on these important issues in the hope that these draconian proposals can be halted.’