The cuts are unfair because they focus on the most vulnerable people. They are illogical because they will encourage more crises and unnecessarily expensive solutions. Below are a few stories about the negative impact on vulnerable people. Some names have been changed to protect people’s privacy.
Calum is a lively eleven-year-old boy who loves being outside: he enjoys playing in the park, going to the shops, riding on a tandem with his mum in front, running around, and going for walks. Calum is autistic and his difficulties with sensory integration mean that he finds it difficult to stay still. This makes it very hard for him to sleep. In the last 11 years he has never slept for more than four hours at one time. Many nights he only sleeps for a maximum of two. His mum says:
Calum only rests when he is not well. I worry all the time about these cuts. I am desperate to keep him at home, but they tell me they might have to reduce the help we get because of the cuts. I really don’t know if I will be able to go on if we get less help than we do now. I only sleep two hours every night! I don’t want him to go into care. I want us to be a family. But I need to sleep! I have the fear of God in me that I will not be able to cope.
I was telephoned the week before Christmas by Olivia’s Community Physio Manager who told me that her weekly physio visits would cease from January “as part of the cuts”. These visits have been essential to maintain Olivia’s mobility and good circulation, prevent deterioration, treat acute conditions, advise and work with the CS team on exercise programmes and liaise with the GP and OT team.
The physiotherapy treatment has been thought necessary since 2002 (and has played a huge part in keeping her in good physical shape) and now it seems overnight it is not. So much for care on the basis of need. If someone like Olivia, who is profoundly disabled and dependent on the care team, cannot access this service, who can?
Supporting people funding
One local authority recently cut Supporting People funding to 22 profoundly disabled people from 1061 hours to 192 hours per week, effective from April 2011.
This devastating reduction in support has prompted the support organisation in question to warn the local authority that the 22 disabled people will be at risk of serious injury or worse.
I’m a vicar. I recently conducted a funeral service for a family whose daughter had cerebral palsy and very complex disabilities. The family had been caring for her full time, and therefore relied on benefits to live. When their daughter died they found they could not afford a headstone for their beloved daughter and there is currently no help available.
Grieving families in this dreadful situation also have to struggle with a sudden drop in their already very low income and further fear and insecurity about losing their homes.