Adult social welfare key election issue for Chichester charity

Matt Woodruff has introduced a 'Tory tax' for anyone who voted Conservative
Matt Woodruff has introduced a 'Tory tax' for anyone who voted Conservative

Cuts to adult social welfare and care packages have been labelled a key issue in the run up to the election.

The Point Scope in West Sussex said these issues were the main bone of contention for their members as they prepare to vote on May 7.

Financial cuts affect so many people with disabilities, the centres and the day services they go to.

The Point Scope centre is an independent local charity and a valuable resource for people with severe physical disabilities.

Being at the centre gives members the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities, and be part of a community while reaching their own level of independence.

John Watson, Manager of the centre said: “We found the cuts difficult to deal with. They made a fundamental difference to the way we operate.

“It has made a terrible difference to the ethos of the centre.

“We lost so many people who were on our books for a long time,” said Mr Watson.

“We’d like some more members. That would be nice.

“The next government, whoever they are, leave adult social care alone.

“There needs to be stability within the system instead of constant upheaval.”

Over the last three to four years the centre has lost 28 members, amounting to one third of the membership.

Membership has now changed, and those who go have much more complex needs with 80 per cent of members with one to one carers.

“Realistically very few members will vote.

“They just don’t feel like it’s anything to do with them. Registering to vote can be an obstacle”, said Mr Watson.

“The Point is used as a polling station, but the members still don’t feel connected.

“Disabled people cover two per cent of the population. Disability isn’t mentioned in any manifesto.

“The numbers don’t come high enough to warrant any political support.”

Jeff Borrer, 50, has cerebral palsy and is just one of the members who has felt the impact of the cuts. Mr Borrer now attends Scope just one day a week after his direct payments were cut.

Direct payments are local authority payments for people who have been assessed as needing help from social services.

Mr Borrer can only afford to attend The Point one day a week due to a reduction in his care package.

Mr Borrer said he had not yet decided which party he would vote for, but that he always votes in the elections.

An important issue is of course the deficit and how the parties will tackle it.

“If you vote conservative, it will mean more and more cuts or you could go back to Labour who got us in to such a mess.

“Even if the conservatives make cuts, at least they’re getting the spending and the deficit down”, said Mr Borrer.

John Yeates, 65, has cerebral palsy and is a member of The Point Scope centre. Mr Yeates used to be a national chairman of Scope.

“I am open minded about who to vote for. There is still a lot of debating to do.

“I might watch some of the live debates, but they don’t actually tell you what they’re going to do.”

“I think there are too many people on disability benefits”, said Mr Yeates.

“People who used to be classed as sick are now classed as disabled. They need to separate the issues between sickness and disability.”