My daughter Layla, who was pictured and quoted on the front page of the Observer a week or so ago, is one of the many people who are affected by West Sussex County Council’s decision to stop funding for people with ‘moderate’ learning disabilities.
She was one of the first to be re-assessed, the result of which is the three days of support she had previously (two days at Aldingbourne Country Centre, and 12 hours’ home support from the same organisation) has been cut to one-and-a-half hours’ total support.
Layla shares a house with another special-needs friend in Bognor, and her attendance at Aldingbourne and the support with cooking, managing her finances and looking after herself has played a huge part in building her confidence and enabling her to live a fuller life.
Seeing her friends and working with them at Aldingbourne is a crucial part of Layla’s life, and our concern, and that of the professionals who work with her, is that she could become withdrawn and regress to the point that her need becomes greater than ‘moderate’, without this contact and support.
My wife and I attended both the protest demonstrations, the last one just prior to the council meeting on Friday. Some very sensible and measured proposals were put forward in the meeting, but the Tebbitt-like Conservative axe would not be stayed.
Dr Bloom (Conservative) even suggested the cuts aren’t huge, feels West Sussex is a caring council and that reassessment will establish what people are entitled to.
Perhaps he or Mr Catchpole would like to help my daughter understand she has clearly been ‘over provided for’ previously, and that is why she is entitled to next to no support now.
The ‘smoke and mirrors’ suggestion that money has been set aside to ‘link up’ the affected people with other bodies and charities, really means that organisations like ACC will have to spend much more time and energy fund-raising, to continue providing a service without local authority funding, when caring for the vulnerable in society is clearly part of the role of local government.
Mr Cameron says the government listens, and claims to care about the disabled, but it seems his party members on West Sussex County Council has not got the message.