Care workers protested today over proposed changes to eligibility criteria which would remove those with “moderate” learning disabilities from Social Care funding.
Workers and recipients of social care braved the cold weather to protest against the proposed changes to reclassify social care services. These changes would mean current recipients, defined has having moderate learning difficulties, could be left without proper care and vulnerable to exploitation and risk becoming homeless. While the term ‘moderate’ would suggest that these people are reasonably able to take care of themselves, in fact the term includes people that need day to day support, are illiterate, as well as having social or psychological issues that make it extremely difficult for them to function without support.
Westminster Social Care trustee Shirley Rodwell stated that while she had accepted the 25% cuts to their budget as being in line with the national need, this reclassification of those at risk would serve neither the public purse nor the community. Following on from a statement released earlier today by Gabby Machell, Chief Executive of Westminster Society for People with Learning Disabilities;
the withdrawal of support for people with moderate learning disabilities equates to those very same people being abandoned, their personal achievements being undone, and their quality of life seriously jeopardised. You cannot take people with lifetime disabilities out of the care system and expect them to just get on with life. We are talking about vulnerable people…
Other workers spoken to raised other fears, namely that once care was removed the disabled would be unable to maintain, what is in many case, restricted lives and would inevitably end up as issues for Accident & Emergency wards or having to be cared for in some other manner by the council. In effect, the savings made by withholding care from the marginalised would have to be paid in others ways and damaging lives in the process.
The Care provided by the Westminster Society doesn’t only benefit those with learning difficulties but also has a wider community effect by sharing the burden of care with their families. The specific aims of the protest today were not only to make politicians and public aware of the outcomes of the proposed changes but also to seek further clarification on a number of points raised through the consultation process. A process which by some accounts has been hampered by administrative difficulties and unclear discourse on what the changes are, what specifically they aim to achieve (financial? rehabilitative?) and how this fits with the Westminster City Council’s ‘Big Plan’ or the Dept. of Health’s ‘Valuing People Now’ agenda. If successful, the protest will hopefully to invigorate the dialogue between the City Council and those at the front of line of care if only to have a planned understanding of how the results of any changes made can be mitigated with the least amount of collateral damage.
For further information on the protest or how to get involved please visit: http://www.wspld.org.uk/main.cfm