Social care and benefits cuts to slash incomes for disabled

Cuts to social care and benefits will see the living standards of the poorest half of disabled people in Norfolk drop by more than a third over the next four years, a study out today reveals.

The study, commissioned by the Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People, is the first to aggregate the effects of declining local authority spending and central government benefit cuts.

It found that 53% of Norfolk’s disabled population – about 100,000 would see their standard of living fall by over a third by 2014-15.

“It gives the lie to ministers’ arrogant claim that disabled people will not be discriminated against,” said Mark Harrison, chief executive of the Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People. “This proves it’s not just disproportionate its discriminatory.”

“It’s going to set disabled people’s right back twenty or thirty years.”

The report concluded that 45,000 disabled people in the county were set to lose 8% of their income each year over the next four years due to benefit cuts. It also found that £45m of the county council’s proposed £136m cuts over the next three years will exclusively affect disabled people

Harrison said the coalition government was to blame for the impact on disabled people but that the local authority should stand up to central government and say it was unable to make the cuts demanded without disadvantaging its disabled constituents.

Polly Vaughan, a disabled person and social care service user, said she was worried about council plans to raise the eligibility threshold to critical only to save money – her needs are currently assessed as substantial.

“They are so hell bent on saving money in the short-term they don’t seem to be looking at the long term. They are going to cost themselves for more in the long run,” she said.

David Harwood, cabinet member for adult and community services at Norfolk Council, said the council had tried to be proportionate in its response to budget pressures.

“The alternative measures the Norfolk Coalition for Disabled People suggests for making savings would, if practicable, fall under the remit of central government,” he said. “I respect the effort that has gone into producing this report but, as far as we’re concerned, we are where we are and we must focus our efforts on what we can control and continuing to do the best we can by the people of Norfolk.”

A Treasury spokesperson said the government was committed to cutting the country’s budget deficit wile protecting the most vulnerable.

The consultation on the council’s plans closes at midnight tonight.

Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People’s video response to the council’s consultation

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