Reader letter: Views of council cuts was misleading

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I refer to the open letter addressed to Derbyshire County Council entitled “Cuts are attack on independence” published in the Readers’ View on April 2, 2015.

Whilst I am a prominent supporter of the rights of people with a disability and their carers, I found that the letter provided an extremely misleading picture of the situation and although the letter is addressed to the County Council, it was clearly not intended to seek a response.

In October 2014, I was sent a copy of the draft of this letter in order for me to append my own endorsement, which I declined, because of its tone and clear political content. Despite the passage of six months, I find that the draft letter has not changed in any significant way, with the exception of the order of the paragraphs and a few minor amendments.

This indicates that the

timing of the letter was a major consideration in the minds of the author.

In reality, I am aware that over at least the last six months, Cabinet members have met with the author of the letter on a number of occasions in order to clarify the County Council’s position.

I am also aware that Cabinet members and Council officers have agreed to cuts in services with great reluctance.

It is worthy of note that the changes to entitlements to care have come not only as a result of funding cuts, but also from the changes brought about by the implementation of the Care Act 2014 on April 1, 2015. This Act, among other things, sets a standard level of entitlement to care services across the country.

As Derbyshire residents, we have been fortunate in the past that the County Council had allocated additional funding to provide care services above the national level and the legislative changes bring those services back in line with the rest of the country. I am also aware that significant steps have been taken to minimise the impact of the changes on people who would have been affected. Indeed, additional money has been taken from other budgets in order to maintain support where possible.

I find it sad that the very important points within the letter about the reduction and potential loss of services to people with a disability, have been diluted by political rhetoric and dogmatic emphasis on the extreme.

When I was offered the draft letter back in October, I suggested that it should be corrected, made more balanced and directed to the source of the funding cuts, and not the Council which has been left to deliver the services with less money.

I can only speculate that it was drafted with the intention to embarrass the County Council, rather than inform or assist.

Paul Lobley

Independent Chair - Derbyshire County Learning Disability Partnership Board,

Director and Treasurer - Derbyshire Carers Association,

Director and Treasurer - Friends of Derbyshire Carers,

Director and Treasurer - First Movement / Level Centre,

Member - Derbyshire Carers Reference Group,

Member - Derbyshire Joint Carers Commissioning Board,

Independent Researcher