These cuts will affect every one of us
Most of us have never even noticed a comprehensive spending review before, but this week nothing else has made the news and every one of us has been affected one way or another, even if the bankers seem to have been affected rather less than the rest of us.
For people with disabilities the cuts will to hit them from two directions: reduced benefits and less access to care and support.
We have heard about a range of benefit cuts in the last few weeks. This week we heard about two more. One is the withdrawal of the mobility part of Disability Living Allowance for those 60,000 disabled people living in residential care. The other is the time limit of one year on the new Employment Support Allowance for those who have been in work but lost their jobs.
I have protested to disabilities minister Maria Miller that both of these cuts undermine what the government and we all want to achieve, which is helping people with disabilities have a job and lead a full in the community. People living in care homes want to get out and about, not depend on the home to take them on outings. That is what personalisation is all about.
I have seen for myself during a visit to a residential service this week how important the mobility allowance is, and how individuals are using it to get out and work, join in community activities, and essentially have a life. Having these choices is crucial for people in residential care.
On the jobs front we know that fewer than 20% of people with a learning disability find a job within a year of starting to prepare and look. Next week I have more meetings with the minister and will carry on asking her to look again at the overall effect and the unintended damage.
Councils are losing 27% of their centrally funded budget over the next four years. An extra £2 billion fund has been added to help protect social care, but this will only make up for the increasing number of older people and people with disabilities, so they will still have to make savings of about 27%.
Councils will have more control over how they choose to spend their money and so 27% doesn’t automatically mean this amount off social care or disability services. We will all have to fight these battles at local level. There are more votes in older people than people with disabilities and so we will have to keep challenging cuts, and offering ideas that help councils handle the cuts responsibly.
So we have to keep talking to local authorities and central government, we have to keep campaigning.