Worcestershire County Council to put disabled into care

Disabled people could be put into care homes, says County Council.

Under new proposals from Worcestershire County Council, some disabled people who are currently active in their communities may be forced into care homes, if this was the cheaper option.

In a consultation document, “Maximum Expenditure Policy”, Worcestershire County Council proposes to put a cap on all new applications for adult social care, in an about turn to the Council’s commitment to Independent Living. This capping will also apply to those people who are already established in their communities, if they need to be reassessed.

“The consultation process has been poorly publicised,” complained Simon Heng, former chair of the Worcestershire Association of Service Users, “I only found out about the public consultation meeting in Kidderminster Town Hall (on 15 May) four days before it took place. There must be many other people who could be affected, who would have wanted to attend, but were not aware that it was happening” As a result, at the consultation meeting in Kidderminster – one of only three planned open consultations across the county – there were only a handful of members of the public in addition to members and supporters of Wcil. The next open event is at the Wendron Centre, Chapel Street, Bromsgrove at 11 am. on the 28th May. Many of those who did attend expressed a wide variety of concerns, including the fate of informal carers, who may lose their homes if their relatives were forced into residential care and the jobs of personal assistants employed by disabled people currently living independently.

Representatives of the county council could not say how many people this proposal might affect, or what the capping limit would be at today’s costs. Even though WCC is aware that another source of funding, the Independent Living Fund, is likely to end in 2015 (which would affect the care budgets of many disabled people) no contingency plans have been made for this.

Winston Davis, a co-chair of The Worcestershire Coalition for Independent Living and Chair of WASU, the Worcestershire Coalition of Service Users, said “I am opposed to these proposals… Officers should explore more widely how to meet service users care needs. I do not think the council has considered the many social implications, particularly possible family breakup. The estimated savings of £200,000 in the first year does not warrant the potential social disruption. Many people, who have contributed much to their communities, now risk being marginalised.”

Simon Heng asked “We know the county council has to make tough choices in these times of tight budgets. But how many potholes are going to be filled for £200,000? Is your smoother car ride really worth the freedom of the most vulnerable in our communities? I will be asking my county councillor which way they will be voting on this matter in the autumn, and I urge anyone who is concerned, or who has a relative or neighbour who might be affected, to do the same.” It could be you or yours next!

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