Angry parents vent frustration over disabled care cost changes

Parent Judith Taylor was asked to remove her banner by security at County Hall. Pic: Archant

Parent Judith Taylor was asked to remove her banner by security at County Hall. Pic: Archant - Credit: Archant

Parents of disabled children who are facing increased care costs due to a decision by county councillors vented their frustration, as leaders once again ruled out a u-turn.

Conservative-controlled Norfolk County Council last year agreed changes to the minimum income guarantee, which reduces a weekly allowance disabled people get, making a difference to how much they have to pay for care.

The county council is getting a £17.6m share of the government's extra £1bn national allocation for social care, but leader Andrew Proctor has said there will be no reversal of that when the council sets its budget next month.

At Monday's full council meeting, Liberal Democrat councillor Tim Adams asked why there had not been a commitment to reverse the changes.

Mr Proctor said the finite amount of money needed to be used for services for all of Norfolk's residents.

That led to calls from the public gallery for the council to stop making cuts which affect disabled people.

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John Hannaway, who lives in Watton, is concerned about the impact on his son, who is autistic with severe learning disabilities and lives in sheltered housing.

He shouted: "You keep making these cuts to disabled people, you keep making these cuts. You put people into poverty and you make their conditions worse. You don't understand the damage you are doing to these people."

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Labour councillor Emma Corlett asked whether, if there is a rise in welfare benefits in March or future budgets, whether the council would commit to increasing the minimum income guarantee for social care in line with that rise - otherwise the extra money would not go to individuals, but would be taken by the council.

Mr Proctor replied: "The minimum guarantee is directed from government. I think there's two parts to that question - if we can get particular government funding directly towards that and government does fund it, then clearly it can be done. "As far as the rest of any change in benefit goes, we've to look to see at what happens at that time and make decisions at that time."

At one point, protesting parent Judith Taylor, who unfurled a banner in the public gallery saying 'We care do you?', was told by County Hall security she would have to remove it or leave the chamber.

However, a change of heart meant she was allowed to stay, with her banner on show, for the duration of the meeting.

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