Budget impact on support for people with learning disabilities
The budget focused heavily on the Chancellor’s plans for growing the economy and job creation, but there was very little which acknowledged the deepening crisis in social care support. The Learning Disability Coalition, formed in 2007 to fight against the cuts in social care, has often found that in times of crisis, it is the people who need the most support who suffer the most. In our current age of austerity, this has never been truer.
In the last year, we have seen an unprecedented reduction in services and support for people with learning disabilities. These range from big cuts, such as the closure of day services and respite homes to arbitrary cuts of 10% or more to all support packages, to the small, seemingly harmless cuts such as the reduction the number of incontinence pads for which a child is eligible. Sometimes it is the smallest cuts which take away people’s dignity and are the hardest to fight against that do the most damage. It is hardly surprising then, that so many people with a learning disability, their parents and carers are keen to join the March for the Alternative on 26th March.
Our recent report, Social Care – the Continuing Crisis, shows the struggle facing local councils to balance their budgets and provide adequate social care support for people with learning disabilities. 90% of councils who responded to the LDC survey stated that they have less funding than last year, with 20% already making cuts.
People with learning disabilities and their families are very concerned for the future. One parent of a person with a learning disability has told us that,
“they are proposing 50% cuts to the care budget [for my daughter], total removal of 1-to-1 support, and a threatened move, against our daughter’s will, to a cheaper provider.”
Another summed up the importance of social care support to them, by saying:
“services for disabled people are not extras or luxuries, but just help towards enabling [them] to achieve some kind of equality with the activities and lives of the rest of us.”
In times when budgets are stretched, it is vital that local authorities must continue to prioritise social care and spend the money allocated on such support. However, this alone will not solve the social care crisis. There are long-term pressures, including the increase in the number of people who need support, and the higher costs of supporting people with higher needs. The Government insists that it has provided enough funding for social but it is very apparent that there needs to be significantly higher levels of funding in the system. That is why we will be continuing our campaign to ‘Protect the Frontline’.