Campaigners have warned the lives of thousands of vulnerable adults will descend into chaos after council chiefs approved “deadly” social care cuts.
This morning, Derbyshire County Council (DCC) passed controversial plans which will see more than 8,000 elderly and disabled people lose access to their home care and face paying more for help.
The move by the Labour-led authority – which needs to slash £157million from its budget by 2018 because of Government austerity – will help save £60m.
Scores of protesters from the Disabled People Against Cuts campaign group held a rally outside DCC headquarters in Matlock this morning before councillors met to accept the proposals.
Gary Matthews, of the group, said: “This is a dark day for Derbyshire.
“It’s no longer a question of cuts – it’s a question of life and death.
“We will have elderly and disabled people who will lose their care – this will lead to a deterioration in health.
“We will have elderly and disabled people who will have to pay more for their care – this will send them further into poverty.
“We’re angry and upset and we will continue to oppose these nightmare cuts.”
Campaigners packed into committee room one at County Hall with placards reading ‘they say cutback, we say fight back’.
But the plans – which were subject to a six-month public consultation – were approved.
DCC leader Councillor Anne Western said: “We don’t want to make these cuts but we’re in an impossible situation forced upon us by the Government.”
Now, only individuals who are assessed as having substantial needs will receive free care at home.
This means up to 1,240 people who fall below that level will lose the council-funded support they have come to rely on.
Fifty-three per cent of residents told the consultation they disagreed with the plan, arguing it would have a “major impact” on those who currently receive care and support from DCC.
In her report to councillors, Mary McElvaney, acting strategic director of adult care, conceded: “This proposal will affect the quality of life of individuals who will have services withdrawn or, in the case of prospective clients, not provided at all.”
The council said those who lose their care will receive advice about other services available to them.
In addition, 7,000 people will be asked to pay more for the cost of their care – exactly how much is yet to be decided.
The consultation found residents were worried the increase would have a “significant” impact on household budgets.
And about 1,150 individuals who use council transport to get to and from care centres will be charged £5 per day.
Cllr Clare Neill, DCC cabinet member for adult social care, said: “The county council is facing massive budget pressures like never before and we have to acknowledge that this will have a big impact on our services.
“I realise this is an anxious time for many.
“I will continue to talk to individuals, families and organisations about how the council could save money and how we can reduce the duplication with the health service. If I can find ways to save money in these areas it will reduce the scale of the cuts to frontline services in the future.”
Cllr Barry Lewis, leader of the Conservatives on DCC, accused the opposition of having a “salami-slicing” approach and said the cuts would lead to more pressures on the NHS.
Cllr Neill responded: “I wouldn’t be doing this if it weren’t for the fact the Tories are robbing the people of Derbyshire.”