A pensioner from Arnold who cares for his disabled son claims the council ‘just don’t give a damn’ after he was given less than 48 hours’ notice about fresh benefit cuts being imposed on his family.
Martin Cater is now one of the many hundreds being affected by the changes being introduced by Nottinghamshire County Council.
The pensioner, who lives in Arnold, cares for his 43-year-old profoundly disabled son, Stephen, who is quadriplegic, brain-damaged and has cerebral palsy.
With less than 48 hours’ notice, he was told that the fee for a day centre his son attends will rise from nothing to £39.30 a week, with new additional charges if Stephen eats lunch or uses transport.
He said: “The way they are doing it has been disgusting.
“They have allowed £20 a week for ‘disability-related expenditure’, but we spend that on washing powder for him alone.
“The letter arrived on Saturday saying that the changes were happening from Monday.
“So I called them on Monday, but they didn’t know anything about it and said they’d write me a letter, but they’ve still not done that.
“Obviously this is going to affect him. It means I won’t be able to take him out as much, but they just don’t give a damn.”
Conservative-led Nottinghamshire County Council decided last month to take more of the disability benefits from 862 disabled people, to pay for the care they receive.
The council says it consulted back in July, and the move brings them in line with other parts of the UK.
It also says it has to make savings due to a £54 million budget gap.
It is understood that the issue will be raised in Parliament in the coming days, and could be the subject of a judicial review.
Vernon Coaker is the MP for Mr Cater, and represents Gedling for Labour.
He said: “The way in which people are being treated by Nottinghamshire County Council is unacceptable and immoral. In one case a constituent was given less than a week to financially adjust to a significant cut to his funding.
“There will be countless cases of people living in communities across the whole of Nottinghamshire who in less than a week are being expected to completely adjust their lives.
“Constituents have told me what these changes mean to them, it means not being able to leave the house to meet friends and family, it means not being able to go to the Day Centre, it means an elderly father caring for his disabled son has reduced respite, it means a poorer diet or not eating at all, it means being faced with tasks that they simply cannot do without help and support, it means falling into a spiral of debt when they do not have the funds for their vital care, it means being on their own, in isolation, away from their community that they rely on for their health and wellbeing.
“I cannot even begin to stress enough what impact this is going to have on people.
“I have asked the leader of Nottinghamshire County Council Councillor Kay Cutts to do the decent thing and reverse this policy.
Councillor Stuart Wallace is the chairman of the council’s social care committee, and represents the Newark East ward for the Conservatives.
He said: “The council is always looking to provide good quality services more efficiently which will help address its £54m budget gap.
“As part of this, we’ve reviewed the way we seek contributions for adult social care services as we currently fund more of people’s care costs compared to many other English councils.
“This hasn’t been an easy decision, but we’ve agreed to take into account a person’s higher disability benefit rates and higher rates of income when deciding how much a person has to contribute as recommended by the Department for Health.
“We have consulted services users and have kept them informed of potential changes since July. We will support people affected by the changes to ensure their needs continue to be met and they are receiving all of their entitled benefits and allowances.
“We will also continue to provide the additional disability related expenditure allowance of £20 a week and consider waiving charges for reasons of financial difficulty or hardship.
“This change has resulted in 58 per cent of service users making a contribution towards their care compared to the previous 46 per cent.”
Cllr Michael Payne represents the Arnold North ward for Labour.
He said: “What is happening is organised, calculated cruelty on a massive scale.
“It is utterly abhorrent of the Conservative county council to treat the most vulnerable people in society like this, without any decency whatsoever.
“The council needs to do the honourable thing and reverse this policy.”