Professor Clements answers some key questions about cuts in the video or you can read his answers about what families can do if they are facing cuts to their services.
I'm worried about the future of the Independent Living Fund - especially as my son relies on this funding. Will he lose all his care and support?
Late last year, the government announced that it will not take on any new applications for the ILF and that they will be looking to wind down the funding by 2014-15.
We don't know exactly what will happen when the ILF is wound down, but whatever happens, councils will have to take responsibility for funding people's care packages. The ILF money will presumably be distributed to councils - although those who are already receiving help from the ILF may also be given support of some kind or another while the system changes.
What's a personal budget? My council says I have to have one - what should I do?
There is no law that mentions ‘personal budgets'. They are just an idea dreamed up by policy makers. The law says that a person's assessed needs must be met by councils. A council can do this either by arranging for support services to be provided, or by giving the disabled person a ‘direct payment'.
Direct payments are a type of ‘personal budget' - one where the person actually receives a cash payment from the council.
Another type of ‘personal budget' also exists. This is where the money is not actually handed to the person, but the council tells the disabled person how much it is actually spending on his or her care services and then tries to encourage that person's involvement in using the money in a more imaginative way to enable them to have a better life.
Because the government wants everyone to be on a personal budget, many councils are switching people to this arrangement. They should only do this if they have fully involved the disabled person, but in some cases this involvement is proving to be ‘token'. However, the new arrangement cannot be an excuse for making a cut - and if this happens, a complaint should be made.
I like my day centre, but the council wants to close it. What should I do?
You should do three things (at least). Firstly you should complain to your council.
Secondly you should make sure that the council has properly consulted about the change, before making a decision. (The government and the courts should have explained in detail what a consultation must do, in order to be fair).
Thirdly you should try and form a local group to campaign against the closure. The group should involve the local media as well as councillors, MPs, local lawyers and so on - and of course Mencap.
My council is closing the only respite care home in the area. This means my son will have to travel for two hours to get a respite service. Are they breaking the law?
Councils must meet a person's needs. If the travel is making him distressed or is causing any other harm to him, then the service will not be ‘meeting his needs' and so the council will have to arrange other respite care which does not involve such lengthy travel.
What can I do if the local authority threatens to move my son/daughter out of the area because they claim they can't afford his or her care costs any more?
Councils must meet a person's needs. This is not only a requirement of community care law - it is also a right under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights which requires that councils show ‘respect' for a person's private and family life and their home.
In general a person will have a need to remain in a place where they have settled well, and they will often have a strong need to be close to family and friends. A council can propose an out of area package only if it can show that:
- the package is really going to be cheaper (ie it actually exists and the figures really add up)
- that the person's assessed needs can be met equally well by the proposed package (ie that there would be no significant harm if the person is moved)
- it has ensured that the person's rights under article 8 will be respected.