No u-turn over care cost changes for Norfolk disabled people despite extra government cash
PUBLISHED: 12:11 10 September 2019 | UPDATED: 12:11 10 September 2019
Campaigners hoping a government announcement of more cash for councils could lead to a u-turn over care cost changes for disabled people have been left disappointed.
The government recently announced, in its spending review, that councils would get an extra £1bn for social care through a new grant - and would be able to raise £500m via a council tax precept specifically for social care.
Conservative-controlled Norfolk County Council previously agreed to save £4m from its adult social care budget by changing how much disabled people aged 18 to 64 receive for social care, saying it brought it in line with national levels.
The council had used a rate of £189 a week for everyone, but voted to change to £132.45 a week for those aged 18 to 24 and £151.45 a week for those aged 25 to 64.
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But parents of disabled people had criticised the changes, saying it will increase isolation for disabled people, as it reduces the money they can use to do other activities.
Judith and Nick Taylor, from Buxton, whose son Charlie has Down's Syndrome, wrote to council leader Andrew Proctor to ask if the extra government cash could be used to reverse the changes.
But Mr Proctor replied to say, while it was not yet clear what the welcome money would mean for Norfolk, it would not be enough to close the council's budget gap.
He said: "The savings and service transformation that this council has implemented are still necessary measures to achieve a balanced budget and further cost savings measures will still need to be identified in future years to continue to deliver services in a sustainable way."
In a separate statement, Mr Proctor said: "The additional money for local government should help reduce the financial pressures that Norfolk County Council face over the next few years and the cessation of funding reduction next year puts us in a better position to plan for the future."
But opposition Labour group leader Steve Morphew said: "This is another short term sticking plaster dressed up as a miracle cure. It fails to even cover the wounds the austerity cuts have inflicted let alone heal them. It also appears once again there's a further big council tax hike masquerading as government largesse that's going to hit the pockets of the 'just about coping'."