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Dad’s anger at plan to cut vulnerable funding
WITH less than three weeks to go before a decision is made on savage funding cuts for Southampton’s most vulnerable, parents and campaigners are making sure the voices of those unable to speak for themselves are heard.
Eddie Leach is just one of those parents battling to stop hikes in day care costs and the scrapping of vital rent allowances that mean so much to those in the city with learning disabilities.
Southampton City Council had been expected to make a decision last month, but after major concerns were raised about the effect these proposals would have on thousands of vulnerable and elderly people, council bosses put the decision on ice.
They had originally set aside just one week to look at concerns over plans to make savings of more than £500,000 by scrapping rent allowance payments to 91 families who care at home for adults who are severely disabled and have learning difficulties.
As part of massive changes to the adult social care budget they also plan to hike charges paid for day care at home, currently used by 2,300 elderly and vulnerable residents. For Eddie’s daughter Jessica, who has Down’s syndrome, the changes would see the council take 100 per cent of her disposable income – a vital £15 a week that she has no means of making up.
Eddie was just one of more than 30 different families who turned out at a special consultation meeting hosted by Mencap to show their anger at the proposals.
Eddie, from Sholing, said: “This isn’t money Jessica can make up. She can’t go to work.
“There are no other options for people with learning disabilities and this becomes a longterm, permanent reduction of their income.
“The council says that it has to be fair to everyone it provides a service for but it is not reasonable to treat people who are so different and special the same as everyone else.
“Some people need to be considered as special because they have special needs – treating everyone the same is not being fair to this vulnerable section of society.
“Our dependants are unique and they need to be treated that way.
“People need to appreciate that for parents with children who have learning disabilities, it does not go away and it does not end.
“It is a lifetime commitment and as they get older the burden becomes more difficult and this needs to be understood.
“There is a great sense of irritation, resentment and anger over these proposals.
“They are taking away money from people who cannot speak for themselves, who literally do not have the capacity to argue their concerns.”
Councillor Matt Stevens, Cabinet member for adult services, said that the consultation was extended after listening to the views of the people who had raised concerns.
Before the consultation ends on April 2, he vowed to speak directly with those people.