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Council should explain disabled charges to equality body, say Surrey Lib Dems

November 4, 2016 11:02 AM
Originally published by Surrey County Council Lib Dems

Cllr Fiona White & Nick Markwick of the Surrey Coalition of Disabled PeopleLiberal Democrats in Surrey have written to the Equality & Human Rights Commission asking them to investigate the Tory council's policy that has increased adult social care charges for disabled residents by over one million pounds a year.

In July this year, the Conservative cabinet agreed changes to the way in which it calculates adult social care charges for those on benefits such as Personal Independence Payments, Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance. The changes mean that the council will be charging disabled people over one million pounds a year extra for their care.

Cllr Fiona White, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Social Care, said:

"I have three main concerns over the way in which these charges have been justified which I would like the Commission to look at. Firstly, Surrey County Council has justified these increases by stating that the charges make the service more sustainable and bring in extra money. But the council is over-reliant on expensive agency staff and has millions in reserves so extra money for adult social care could clearly be found from elsewhere.

"Secondly, the council have totally ignored the results of the consultation they held on this matter which totally devalues the nature of such an exercise and undermines the trust that we have with our residents. People who responded to the consultation did so in good faith thinking their voices would be heard so it is wrong for the Tories to ignore them so flagrantly, and carry on regardless.

"And lastly, I feel that the Equalities Impact Assessment (EIA) carried out by the council was poor and limited in its scope. Much more work should have been done in checking the impact that this reduction in income will have on some of the most vulnerable people in our community. The Equality Act (2010) gives protections to disabled people and places duties on bodies such as Surrey County Council not to discriminate. These charges target the benefits of disabled people in Surrey and I look forward to hearing from the Equality & Human Rights Commission as to their opinion on this vital matter."