Disabled benefit cuts in line with national guidelines saves £3.8m per year

Nottinghamshire County Council © westbridgfordwire.com
Nottinghamshire County Council © westbridgfordwire.com

Disabled people who require social care will lose some of the disability benefits they receive after a move approved this week.

The money will be used as a contribution for the care they are given by the county council.

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The Conservatives at Nottinghamshire County Council say the move brings them in line with national guidelines, that it will save £3.8 million a year, and that they have received no alternative suggestions on how to save the money.

But Labour, who voted against the proposal today, say the policy is targeting the most vulnerable people in society, and that the impact on people’s lives has not been properly understood.

The move means an additional 862 people in the county will contribute more towards their care.

Currently, people with disabilities who require care are allowed to keep £189 a week before they start contributing to their care. This is used for all living costs, bills and food.

Under the new scheme, 18-24 year olds will be allowed to keep £132.45 – meaning they lose £56.55 a week.

People aged between 25 and pensionable age will be allowed to keep £151.45 – a cut of £37.55 a week.

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Those of a pensionable age will still be allowed to keep £189 a week.

It means disabled people aged between 18 and 24 will have around £550 to live on each month.

Councillor Stuart Wallace, who represents the Newark East ward for the Conservatives, acknowledged that it was not a policy he would have wished to have brought forward, but said it was nonetheless necessary in order to find savings.

He said: “The low hanging fruit has long since been picked, there is nowhere else for us to go.

“So I do challenge councillors who oppose this to come forward and say how they would find the savings.

“Are we going to abandon people, the answer to that is no, service users will be entitled to have the services of the financial officers to ensure that they are receiving all the benefits they are entitled to and due.

“We will continue to assess people’s needs and continue to assist users to meet housing costs, and where necessary we will agree short-term waivers for people in hardship.”

Councillor Alan Rhodes represents the Worksop North ward, and is the leader of the Labour group.

He said: “If social care was being properly funded then we would not be having this conversation today.

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“We will not be supporting this simply because we will not support an attack on the income of vulnerable people who will be financially disadvantaged when this policy is implemented.

“The majority of respondents (to the consultation) do not agree that this should go ahead.”

Conservative councillor Philip Owen, who represents the Nuthall and Kimberley ward for the Conservatives, dismissed Labour’s objections to the cuts as ‘emotional clap-trap’.

He said: “It is easy to airily dismiss the fact that we have got to find the savings. Yes we would like more money, yes we would like fairer funding, but we find a situation where we have got to make these savings.”

Councillor Zadrozny represents the Ashfields ward for the Ashfield Independents, and said: “I think it’s disgraceful to ask people under 24 to live on £550 a month. I think there are many members of the Conservative administration who live on 10 times that a month.”

“You say we are jumping on the bandwagon, but most of us are trying to jump on injustice, not on bandwagons.”

The plan was passed at County Hall today by one vote.