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Don't implement 'discriminatory' cuts, disabled charity urges council

PUBLISHED: 07:00 10 January 2011

Norfolk county councillors are being urged to defy the government and refuse to implement "discriminatory and disproportionate" cuts in services to disabled people.

About 100,000 disabled people and their families across Norfolk face a reduction in their living standards by a third due to government tax and welfare changes and proposed county council cuts, according to a charity.

A report commissioned by Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People (NCODP) calculates that of Norfolk’s 186,000 disabled people, 45,000 of those of working age on disability benefits will lose £526 – 8pc of their income each year.

It claims £45m from Norfolk County Council’s proposed £136m in cuts in services over the next three years will directly and exclusively affect disabled people, representing a loss of services valued at £476 per disabled person per year.

The report, written by University of East Anglia economist Dr Chris Edwards, calculates last week’s VAT rise will mean a loss of about 2pc of income for the poorest 50pc of disabled people. And it claims the poorest 53pc of disabled people in the county – about 100,000 and their families – will see their living standards decline by a third over the next four years.

The report is being launched today to coincide with the close of the Big Conversation.

Mark Harrison, chief executive of NCODP, said: “This report charts how disabled people are being scapegoated for a crisis which we had no part in creating.

“My message to Norfolk councillors is that these proposals are both discriminatory and disproportionate. If we are truly ‘in this together’ and you are working in the interests of Norfolk citizens then you must tell the coalition government that it is not possible to implement their cuts.”

But David Harwood, the council’s cabinet member for adult social services, said: “We are still to finish our deliberations. We’re beginning to analyse the information that’s coming in.

“The proposals have been based on a worst-case scenario. The information we have now is slightly different to that, although it’s not good and it means we still have to find the savings.

“As portfolio holder I will do everything I can to make sure adult social services gets as much money as possible from the budget.”

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