Coping with the Cuts is a groundbreaking study by Demos which reveals the reality facing many disabled families across England and Wales. It demonstrates that it is possible to assess accurately the impact cuts have on disabled people. And, in doing so, it shows that disabled people are, not surprisingly, being badly affected.
However this research suggests that Southampton City Council and Hampshire County Council are coping relatively well compared to the rest of the country.
This was based on the following factors:
Changes to social care budgets for children, adults and older people between 2010/11 and 2011/12
Average changes in user charges for a range of disability services including transport, community meals, respite etc. between 2010/11 and 2011/12
The care contribution policy put in place – how the local authority takes disability related benefits into account when calculating the amount people have to contribute to their social care funding
The level of efficiency reduction placed on personal budgets (which can make personal budgets lower than the cash equivalent of the care people would receive directly from their council)
The current eligibility criteria for state funded social care in the local authority (low, moderate, substantial or critical needs)
Any changes in eligibility criteria between 2010/11 and 2011/12
Based on these factors, Southampton came 26th, Hampshire came 30th, and Portsmouth came 32nd out of the 152 local authorities that were scored.
SCIL however believes that there is no room for complacency amongst any local authority. Budgetary pressures will continue for several years to come and with the government appearing to be reluctant to deal with the social care dilemma, Disabled People face an uncertain future.
Disabled People’s user led organisations will have a key role at a local, regional, and national level in holding central and local government to account and why the Hampshire Personalisation Expert Panel, SENDPO and the Office of Disability Issues’ Strengthening DPULOs project is so vital.
The DEMOS report highlight some of the positive ways that local authorities mitigated the budgetary cuts:
Coproduction – involving service users in designing and
planning their services, and in some cases delivering them.
A move towards more integrated services, bringing in care,
health and often housing and leisure.
A commitment to personalisation, not as a cost-cutting
measure, but as a foundation on which these other strategies
can be built around.
SCIL continues to work with both Hampshire and Southampton to help them with all three of the above methods and hopes central government will rise to the challenge too