The reality of the cuts will only be felt slowly. And when we know all the details it might be too late.
We have been keeping up the pressure on Ministers this week, with meetings with the disability and employment ministers to assist them to do more to help people with a learning disability. We know that we can’t stop the overall cuts agenda, but we can try and get them to see the impact on disabled people and take sensitive decisions.
There are serious risks to people who rent and own houses not being able to afford where they currently live. It is also likely that fewer people will get social care and those who do will get less of it. This may not be the intention, but we genuinely believe that the scale of general local govt cuts will be much greater than the extra money being put into social care. And most urgent is the withdrawal of mobility DLA for those in residential care. The minister claims that this is double funding as local authorities are already paying for it. We know this is wrong and we all need to keep telling her this.
I am encouraged by how hard the govt seem to be trying on the employment side. They know that they will need to give people with a learning disability more help if they are to get into work and need to design a system of support, training, benefits and employer engagement to make this work. The redesigned benefits system, called Universal Credit, is intended to help this when it comes into force in two years. But we know that employment isn’t the only answer and many people either can’t work or can’t get a job if they want to.
We have also been working in a small group with a professor appointed to look at the Work Capability Assessment, which is the test of who is believed to be capable of work and who isn’t. We want to make this fairer in judging what people can actually do in the workplace, not what their medical condition is.
The reality of the cuts will only be felt slowly. And by the time we know all the details it might be too late. We now know the national figures, next it will be the local ones, and then the decisions on how each local authority chooses to spend the money it has. This is where we most need to engage now.