Friday, 13 July 2012

Back to the institutions?

I suppose we're getting used to living with austerity. Rising unemployment. Prices going up while incomes don't. Half the shops in the High Street boarded up.

We could argue from now till Christmas about the government's economic policy and its priorities in spending. The fact is, as things stand, there isn't enough money to go round. And that seems to be impacting particularly on disabled people.

I've written before about the many problems with the benefits system for people who are disabled or have long-term illnesses. One thing that's remained sacrosanct, though, is our right to live independently in the community (obviously with appropriate support) - rights that are now enshrined in law.

That's why it's disturbing to see that Worcestershire Council plans to bring in a "maximum expenditure policy", imposing a cap on the cost of social care packages. People with significant care needs are likely to be forced into care homes.

The campaigning disability group We Are Spartacus's new report, Past Caring, analyses the council's proposals. As well as criticising the council’s current consultation exercise, the report shows the proposed policy:
  • Will mean disabled people get less support
  • Will mean a deterioration in care standards and quality of life
  • Could lead to disabled people forced into residential care, even if they don’t want to
  • Could force disabled people to rely on charity for the help and support they need
  • Goes against the recommendations of the Government’s flagship white paper on social care reform
  • Could be open to a legal challenge
There's no question that local authorities currently face huge challenges. But forcing disabled people to leave their homes, costing far more money in the long run, is not the answer.

We're having to get used to a lot of new things. They say you can get used to anything. But not this. Never this.

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