Disabled People Could be Forgotten Amid Social Care Reform

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Posted 18/01/2013

Adults with disabilities in England are being deprived of basic care and support and are at risk of being forgotten in the wider reform of the social care system. This is the view of campaigners as much of the focus on care has been centred around the crisis facing the elderly. A coalition of charities has warned people with disabilities under the age of 65 are also being neglected. The squeeze on Council care means that many are already missing out.Groups including Mencap, Scope, The National Autistic Society, Leonard Cheshire Disability and Sense warned the situation could deteriorate under the forthcoming reform of the system. Ministers are soon expected to announce the cap that will be placed on the costs people face for care. This will largely benefit older people who have built up substantial assets through savings, pension and property.Younger adults with disabilities are less likely to have such assets and as a result get free care through a means tested system. Approximately 500,000 working age adults get social care support, a third of the total number getting help. The figure has been falling in recent years as Councils have started to ration care so that only those with the most severe needs get help.Research carried out for the charities indicated there were now 90,000 fewer people receiving help than in 2008 at a time when there are more people living with disabilities. The study also warned if the reform of the system was pushed through it could lead to more being excluded. This is because the Government’s desire to have national eligibility criteria could result in those areas that have yet to ration care imposing tighter restrictions. 

Research also raised concerns about the quality of services being provided. A survey of 600 people receiving social care found that nearly 40% were failing to get enough help to ensure their basic needs of eating, washing and dressing were met. Overall the report estimated there was a £1.2billion funding gap for younger disabled adults. The Chief Executive of Scope said: “This is shocking evidence that the system has failed disabled people, effectively condemning them to a life without basic dignity and invisible to society. Times are tough for everyone but being able to eat, wash and leave your home is not a luxury”.Mark Goldring of Mencap added “It is unforgiveable; the Government cannot ignore this damning evidence”. The Care Minister Norman Lamb said he recognised there was pressure on the system and the Government was trying to target resources for social care but he said even in the present conditions there were examples of Local Authorities re-designing services to find more efficient ways of working.Julie Crossley, a clinical negligence lawyer at Ashtons Legal Solicitors, says: “This is a worrying trend. We know there are cuts across the board to all services but this is a particularly vulnerable group who risk being left without the basic essentials of daily living”.


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