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'Patronising' leaflets sent to disabled people were a 'cock-up', admit councillors

PUBLISHED: 12:48 23 September 2019 | UPDATED: 12:48 23 September 2019

Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group at Norfolk County Council, said the leaflets were patronising. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group at Norfolk County Council, said the leaflets were patronising. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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"Patronising" money-saving tips offered by Norfolk County Council to families whose financial support had been cut was a "cock-up", councillors have admitted.

Money advice leaflets given out by Norfolk County Council: Picture: SuppliedMoney advice leaflets given out by Norfolk County Council: Picture: Supplied

Following changes to its minimum income guarantee provision early this year, the county council circulated leaflets with a range of 'tips' for saving money to almost 2,800 people affected.

The leaflets included advice about food shopping, bills and budgeting, along with contact numbers for various other advisors and organisations.

Another leaflet suggested a range of reasons people struggle with money, including gambling.

But disabled people and their families, who received the leaflets because the council had decided to make changes which meant they would have to pay more for care, branded them insensitive.

Money advice leaflets given out by Norfolk County Council: Picture: SuppliedMoney advice leaflets given out by Norfolk County Council: Picture: Supplied

And it sparked a motion from opposition Labour leader Steve Morphew at today's full county council meeting.

Mr Morphew said the leaflets were "condescending and patronising".

Conservative councillors said the leaflets had been withdrawn in July, long before Mr Morphew's motion calling for their withdrawal.

They remained online until September 12.

Money advice leaflets given out by Norfolk County Council: Picture: SuppliedMoney advice leaflets given out by Norfolk County Council: Picture: Supplied

Bill Borrett, cabinet member for adult social care, said: "These leaflets should never have gone out and I apologise.

"It was a complete cock-up and they shouldn't have gone out.

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"I wouldn't want to see a repeat of that. I accept all of that."

Mr Borrett said it has happened because the council had stopped contracting an external organisation to produce money advice and had taken it in-house.

He said that had led to the leaflets being sent to people they should not have been sent to.

He said, given the leaflets were withdrawn months ago, there was an element of "posturing" by Mr Morphew.

Because Mr Morphew's motion proposed withdrawing the leaflets - which had already happened - many Conservatives voted against it.

The motion had also asked that the council work with the disabled people and carers to ensure they "get the advice they need rather than the advice other people think they need".

But the motion was lost by 38 votes to 23, with four abstentions.

Among the advice given to disabled people, their careers and parents was:

- Write a list before you go shopping - and stick to it

- Avoid convenience foods and fast food - it often costs less to make your own meals

- Try the supermarket own brand of items you buy regularly

- Eat breakfast - it will keep you feeling full so you're not tempted to spend money on a larger and more expensive lunch

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