500 say 'No' to Norfolk Care Cuts
Members of Norwich Green Party and anti-cuts campaigners will submit a petition of over 500 signatures to Norfolk County Council on Tuesday this week.
The petition opposes proposed cuts by the Labour-led Council to personal budgets, care packages, and preventative services; and calls on the County Council to make social care a 'top priority'.
Labour-led Norfolk County Council is proposing £56m of cuts to social services. These cuts have caused concern to local charities:
Age Concern is running a 'Cut Cake Not Care' campaign against several of the proposals.
Norwich Older Peoples' Forum expressed concerns that Adult Social Services could suffer similar problems to Childrens' Services at the County Council, which were severely cut in 2011 and were recently criticised by OFSTED.
BUILD claimed that the proposed cuts would set back community-based social care by at least 10 years.
Disability charity Equal Lives claim that the proposed cuts "violate the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities".
Councillor Richard Bearman, Leader of the Green Party group on Norfolk County Council, said:
"The coalition Government's austerity reductions are making devastingly cruel cuts to social care inevitable at the time people need it most. The County Council will have little choice but to cut back on essential services that the most vulnerable in society rely on. To add insult to injury, the Labour-led administration have neglected to make social care a top priority. Greens will oppose these cuts in this and future years budgets, and this petition shows the public are on our side."
108 people, most of whom had signed the petition, also took part in a mini-survey which asked the following questions:
Would you be prepared to see a small rise in Council Tax (about 33p per week for a Band B property) to help secure the future of social care?
The results were: Yes 89%, No 4.5%, Don't know 6.5%.
Do you think that funding social care is more important than building new roads?
The results were: Yes 93.5%, No 5.5%, Don't know 1%.
Councillor Stephen Little, Green Party City Councillor for Town Close Ward, said:
"As a party, we understand why, in these difficult times, the County Council should want to freeze Council
Tax and we did also point out in the petition's online preamble that this has made the Council eligible for one-off grant funding. However, we feel it important to make clear that this continual freezing of council tax has meant that each year, the real value of revenues from council tax and the council's ability to raise finance in future years are both reduced."
Quotes from signatories were left on the website www.stopcarecrisisnorfolk.co.uk and included:
Rachel Keetley: "I work in social care and am already struggling to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in our society due to major staff reductions in the last cuts. We have had a severe squeeze on resources available for service users already - this cannot continue if we care about the welfare and dignity of the most vulnerable in our community."
Ashley Williams: "As a carer for a vulnerable adult I consider the proposed potential cuts and restrictions to the scope of personal budgets to be shameful. A civilised society should put those who have become dependent on support high on its list of priorities."
Torah Dye: "I am a support worker and I have witnessed the fear and anxiety that the proposed cuts have instilled in many people. I for one would agree that it would make much better sense for people to pay slightly more council tax if it would mean that social services could continue as they are (if not improve) so that the people who access them can remain as independent and healthy as possible for as long as possible thereby actually reducing their dependence on services in the long term."
Molly Barrett: "The fear alone of this has a devastating effect on people's lives. I challenge councillors who will be voting on this to first shadow for 48 hours someone who will be affected by the cuts."
Malcolm Birtwell: "Having been a social worker I understand just how inportant preventative care services are. "
Georgina Moles: "Social care is in crisis from the cuts imposed by the austerity programme of the Condems to be carried out by the Labour led administration. Stop the cuts NOW."
David Peel, publicity officer for Norfolk People's Assembly said:
"Instead of standing up to the Government on behalf of Norfolk people, the county council is implementing cuts and is causing a care crisis. The price of dealing with the deficit cannot be the sacrifice of the vulnerable. It is unfair, unjust and unnecessary. Heed this petition and stop the cuts now."