Charity warns Norfolk County Council charge change for disabled people could lead to earlier deaths

Mark Harrison, front left, CEO of Equal Lives. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mark Harrison, front left, CEO of Equal Lives. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2015

Proposals which would mean disabled people have to pay more for services from Norfolk County Council could contribute to earlier deaths, a charity has said.

The county council, which needs to plug a £125m funding gap by 2021/22, is looking to save £400,000 by changing how much people pay towards non-residential care services.

Those are things such as help at home, getting meals, activities such as accessing local groups, help with education, and going to a day centre.

Norfolk County Council carries out a financial assessment to work out how much, if anything, people pay towards care and changed the charging policy last year.

Under the proposals, they will no longer base that on an assumption, but people will have to show evidence of all their disability expenditure.

The council admits that will mean about 3,800 people will have to pay more for services, including 130 who have never paid towards their social care.

And Mark Harrison, from Framingham Pigot-based disability charity Equal Lives, said: “They put the prices up last year and we and the council both know a whole number of people gave up their social care because they couldn’t afford it. People are having to decide whether to pay for social care, or whether to eat or heat their homes.”

Mr Harrison cited a study by researchers from Cambridge University, Oxford University and University College, London which linked the squeeze on public finances since 2010 to nearly 120,000 excess deaths in England.

He said: “This is going to accelerate deaths and those making the decisions need to realise that.”

The council’s adult social care committee will consider the change on Monday, ahead of the budget setting next month.

A council spokesman said: “Our financial assessment team works with each service user, and where appropriate their representative, to work out how much an individual can afford to pay towards the cost of their care.

“This ensures that after costs for housing and taxes are paid that everyone has a minimum amount left each week to pay for day to day living costs such as electricity, food, clothes and general expenses. In Norfolk, this amount is currently £189 per week. The proposals do not affect this.”

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