More than half of councils have raised charges or eligibility thresholds for care in the past year or consulted on doing so, research has revealed.
One in five (21%) had raised eligibility thresholds or carried out a consultation, while a further 36% had done the same in relation to care charges, a Learning Disability Coalition survey of 60 authorities found.
Most councils who have consulted on raising charges have acted on their plans, Community Care has found.
The coalition, which represents charities, providers and user groups, said the impact of the cuts was potentially “catastrophic”, particularly for people with moderate or mild learning disabilities.
“The cuts in funding mean that services [have] become more targeted on those with the most complex needs,” said one respondent. “This has meant that there is little provision and support for people with mild to moderate needs meaning that these people only come in to the service in a crisis.”
A separate survey of 300 people with learning disabilities, carers or family members found a third had been contacted by their council about an increase in eligibility criteria, and 27% had been contacted about increased charges.
“My sister, who has a diagnosis of severe learning disabilities, has had all her care removed, with funding cuts being cited as the reason,” said one family member. “It is not possible for the family to replace this care, as well as the support the family were already providing. We are also not trained to give the specialist services needed. My sister is now suffering from serious neglect certainly due to funding cuts.”
In terms of specific services at risk, 36% of councils said residential care was likely to be affected, 44% cited supported living and 48% day care.
“Councils across the country work tirelessly to provide the best possible level of social care so people in need can enjoy the respect and dignity they deserve,” said David Rogers, chair of the Local Government Association’s community well-being board. But he added: “Tough decisions are unavoidable. As the health select committee reported last year, the front-loaded cuts many town halls are having to manage may leave them little opportunity other than to restrict eligibility criteria and increase charges.”
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