Parents of disabled children make plea to Norfolk County Council over care cost changes

Families are urging councillors not to go ahead with changes to social care charges which they say w

Families are urging councillors not to go ahead with changes to social care charges which they say will unfairly impact on disabled peoplel. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

Worried parents of people with learning disablities are urging councillors not to make changes which would increase what their children have to pay towards care.

As part of Norfolk County Council's budget-setting process, councillors will today decide whether to put forward changes to the authority's charging policy - to save County Hall £4m.

The proposal will change the 'minimum income guarantee' used by the council to assess how much people aged 18 to 64 pay towards their care – which will mean hundreds of vulnerable people have to pay more.

At the moment, the council uses a rate of £189 for that assessment, but wants to change that to £123.45 for those aged 18 to 24 and £151.45 a week for those aged 25 to 64.

Other proposals would see a benefit – the enhanced element of personal independence payments (PIP) – taken into account when assessing care.

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The combined affects could lead to about 1,000 people having to pay more for care and 1,400 people paying for care for the first time.

The council needs to save £79m over the next three years and recently announced a further £46m gap had widened to £71m because of pressures on adult social care and children's services.

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Judith Taylor, of Mill Street in Buxton, said her 28-year-old son, who has Down's syndrome, would lose out on £67 a week - money which helps him have a social life.

She met the council's Conservative leader Andrew Proctor last week to outline her concerns, but says she does not believe his administration will change its mind.

She said: 'We hope they will reconsider, but I didn't get the impression that was very likely. I don't think they understand how disabled people live their lives.'

She intends to protest at County Hall, where the policy and resources committee is due to agree to put the changes into next month's budget.

But Brenda Jones, Labour's lead for adult social care, said: 'Now the reality is becoming clear there must be an urgent rethink.'

Bill Borrett, chairman of the council's adult social care committee, had said the authority was investing £1m to help people find jobs and training and said: 'The committee appreciates that everyone's financial circumstances are different and that any change can be unsettling, so the council will be supporting people on a one-to-one basis.'

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