Disabled people to meet Conservative councillors to urge them to stop Norfolk cuts

Clive Shipp. Pic: Philip Williams.

Clive Shipp. Pic: Philip Williams. - Credit: Philip Williams

Disabled people and their parents will tomorrow (Tuesday, September 17) urge councillors to rethink controversial care cost changes - and to stop making cuts affecting the county's most vulnerable.

Earlier this year, the Conservative-controlled council agreed changes to the minimum income guarantee, which reduces a weekly allowance disabled people get.

Another change means a benefit, the enhanced element of personal independence payments, is now taken into account when assessing care.

Combined, it means about 1,000 people are having to pay more for care and 1,400 are paying for care for the first time.

The council said the changes would save £4m from an under-pressure budget and bring Norfolk in line with other authorities.

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Angry campaigners organised a public meeting at County Hall in July, but no Conservative councillors attended.

Tory councillor Margaret Stone subsequently resigned as chairman of the Norfolk health overview and scrutiny committee, after sending an email to the parents of one disabled man describing them as 'selfish' for trying to get the council to reverse its decisions.

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And Conservative councillors will attend a meeting tomorrow, where campaigners will outline the effects of the changes.

Among them will be Clive Shipp, from Terrington St Clement, near King's Lynn, who was born prematurely to a mother who had been hospitalised for five months with kidney failure.

He was given a life expectancy of two hours, but the efforts of hospital staff meant he survived.

He was subsequently diagnosed with cerebral palsy and said he had incurred extra costs for councils since the day he was born, but that has helped keep him and his wife Julie, who also has cerebral palsy, independent.

He said: "We are living proof that good interventions really can change lives. Every disabled person deserves that."

He has written an open letter to county councillors, highlighting the impact of the changes on people in Norfolk.

He said: "These are people whose care needs are immense Whose life chances are already extremely limited. Whose life choices will diminish as their families age.

"To deprive them of any of their income really isn't the way to go."

Excerpts from Mr Shipp's open letter to Norfolk county councillors

"The reduction of the minimum income guarantee, for those under 65 year old and even greater reductions for those under 25 year old, is cruel and unfair.

"We have had no detailed scientific explanation of how these new rates have been arrived at, which I think is the least we can expect.

"The second part of the changes is the decision to include the 'enhanced' element of Personal Independence Payment in the assessment. I, along with everyone I've spoken to about it, find that very puzzling.

"Norfolk County Council doesn't provide us with 'enhanced' care. On the contrary, as you will be well aware, over the last few years you have systematically and arbitrary cut our personal budgets and reduced services.

"Any "enhancements" we receive are provided by our hard working and put upon families.

"I have recently met some of the most vulnerable young disabled adults in Norfolk and their families. The very idea that you can snatch money from their pockets is truly heartless.

"The hard work and dedication of their lovely families saves Norfolk County Council hundreds of thousands of pounds per year. Shame on you!"

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