Scrutiny Panel gives us a voice

On Tuesday 25th January members of the campaign group attended Scrutiny Panel as witnesses. The Chair of the Panel, Leader of the Opposition Councillor Howard Jones, gave us a very fair opportunity to present our views and explain the issues.

Jane Young, Ali Kashmiri, Baroness Campbell, Ann Macfarlane and Pat Page all spoke to the panel, explaining the reality of life as a disabled person and how the council’s proposals would damage the human rights, life chances and opportunities for disabled people in the borough.

Ali presented a video diary of his daily life to illustrate the importance of independence living support whereby his personal assistants literally act as his arms and legs to enable him to live a full life. He also explained how expensive it is to live as a disabled person, including some examples of the cost of essential equipment which is not provided by the NHS.

At the end of the meeting, the panel agreed the following recommendation should be made to the Executive:

The Panel noted the statement from the Executive Member that the Budget proposal on the percentage of disposable income to be contributed would be 75% and not 100% as originally proposed.

The Panel

1.  urges the Executive to:

(i)  increase the level of savings at which the full charge is levied so that fewer people find that the policy disadvantages them if they have been prudent and saved

(ii)  find ways to mitigate the effects for those with greater care needs

(iii)  publish guidelines on what will be exempted, specifically to include costs of vehicles, wheelchairs and necessary equipment, and include allowances for savings for a deposit for a home, recognising that young disabled people have a right to realise the same ambitions as the rest of the community

2.  would like to see greater vision in the long term policy for disabled care and consideration of the effects on full time residential care costs which would result from the increases in home care costs;

3.  formulate some standard operating procedures for consultations to achieve a better outcome and avoid leading questions;

4.  The Panel has reflected on the examples of daily life and the difficulties, which it heard at meeting, and the effect on individuals that will arise from increases in care costs.  These have impressed on the Panel the importance of providing essential care and a reminder that all as a society will be judged on how we deal with these matters.