Bradford accused of disabled people ‘tax’

Mencap has accused Bradford Council of putting a “tax on
disabled people” following its decision to prosecute to recover
payment for essential day care services.

The charity, which was contacted by three families who were
worried about letters they had received giving them 14 days to pay
or face prosecution, believes Bradford is the first council to take
such action.

Mencap district officer Paul Smithson said: “It is unfortunate
that people who have been assessed as needing help in order to
fully participate in society have to pay for the privilege. But
they should be aware Bradford does have an appeals process.”

Head of mental health and learning disability Chris Bielby
defended the council’s charging policy, which was introduced in
1996. He said it had been “commended by the Audit Commission as one
of the best in the country because it is based on the ability to

But Smithson said that the council’s Audit Commission
commendation had been for the administrative side of its charging
system, which meant service users were kept up to date with how
much they owed. However, the people threatened with court action
were not sent a bill so they had no idea how much they were being

Bielby said that the decision to go to court was “very much a
last resort”.

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