Protest against the increasing cost of social care in West Sussex

Wednesday, 9 March 2022 20:09

By Karen Dunn - Local Democracy Reporter

“If you shut the door on us we will just keep knocking until we are heard.” That was the message to West Sussex County Council from campaigners protesting against the rising cost of social care for people with disabilities.

Organised by Warrior Carers, the group met at County Hall, Chichester, as councillors headed in to a meeting of the Health and Adult Social Care scrutiny committee.

There was an outcry last year after a review of the financial assessment process for those receiving adult social care left some in debt and others giving up on support they could no longer afford.

In January, cabinet member Amanda Jupp apologised for the ‘anxiety and stress’ endured by people who saw their social care charges sky-rocket.
She added: “The original financial assessment process was out-sourced and when we brought it back in-house, we immediately saw the problems and we acted upon it immediately.”

But that apology has not eased concerns.

A spokesman for Warrior Carers said: “This is a growing crisis, which will deepen with rising inflation and increased energy costs and the council needs to recognise this and act now to support and protect disabled people in the county not harm them further by ever-increasing charges and cuts to their services.”

Among the campaigners was Sarah Welch, whose adult son has cerebral palsy, sight problems and learning difficulties. Sarah saw her charges rise from £37.70 per week to £73 per week – an increase she said was ‘demonising’ those in need of care. Taking up a megaphone outside County Hall, she let rip at the ‘unfair and discriminatory care charge’, which she said should be called a disability tax.

Speaking about the Disability Related Expenditure rule, she asked: “Who else in receipt of benefits is asked to pay extra for the service they particularly need?

“Who else has to justify how they spend their money in order to keep their benefits?”

She told those present that carers such as herself ‘have to go cap in hand’ to benefits advisers and submit receipts for any expenditure deemed to be disability related. 

She added: “They then decide whether they will allow this. “So these people working in government departments – number crunchers – get to decide how much money our people live on.”

Ms Welch called on the council to speak to authorities such as Fulham & Hammersmith – which does not charge for care and support in the home – to ‘find out how they manage their budgets and look after the people they are paid to look after’.

She added: “We say listen to us, meet with us, work with us – but if you shut the door on us we will just keep knocking on that door until we are heard.

“We won’t go away. Our people depend upon us to be their advocates and to fight in order for them to live decent lives and for those reasons we are here to stay.”

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