Reader letter: Cuts to disabled services are ‘fair’

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I would like to respond to the letter entitled `Cuts are relentless’, printed in the Ripley and Heanor News (April 2).

The points raised in the letter have formed the basis of many of our meetings with the campaigners over many months and we are all aware of the issues.

The county council is facing £157 million cuts and a reduction in its spending by a third by 2018. The adult care budget alone faces a cut of up to £60 million, when it is under more financial pressure than ever with the increasingly ageing population.

The council has some very tough decisions to make and is examining every penny it spends.

Unfortunately, some services will be cut and some will have to stop altogether.

While we have to make cuts, we are trying to do this as fairly as possible, mitigating the effects where we can.

All the cabinet’s decisions on the cuts are underpinned by very detailed Equality Impact Assessments where every aspect of how people may be affected is considered before decisions are made. This means there is still a huge amount of very positive work that is going on to protect our most vulnerable residents and we are doing all we can to mitigate the effects of the cuts where possible. We are talking to providers of services for older and vulnerable people and disabled people to see how things can be done differently.

We recently announced that the proposed cut to warden service funding in sheltered accommodation will be postponed for 12 months to give

organisations more time to come up with alternative funding and different ways of working.

Recently we announced £2.5 million of grants to community and voluntary groups running a range of services aimed at helping people to stay independent, safe and well.

This includes carers groups, organisations helping to support people with dementia, domestic abuse services, lunch clubs and befriending services.

We also confirmed that groups supporting vulnerable people in Derbyshire Dales, High Peak, Amber Valley and South Derbyshire would benefit from council tax being paid on second homes.

A large proportion of the extra funding is also being channelled towards providing more Disabled Facilities Grants to help people stay living independently at home.

To help cope with the rising older population the council is putting an extra £7 million into the adult care budget and for 2015/16 there is a one-off amount of £3 million from reserves.

We are working more closely with the NHS to make savings while at the same time directing more resources towards helping relieve the pressures on hospital beds which we have all read about recently.

Despite the cuts, we are also investing in the future, working with partners to open three new extra care housing schemes for the over 55s, including one in Alfreton, developing a combined extra care housing and specialist care centre and two more specialist care centres, one of which is Florence Shipley Community Care Centre in Heanor, all due to open this year.

We are also looking at

investing in a new care

development in Belper.

We have had to increase the amount people pay for their care, but we are phasing in the increase, and it still remains low compared to some parts of the country. We also modified a proposal to charge £5 per journey for transport to day centres, changing it to £5 per day as a result of consultation responses we received.

Where we changed our

criteria for who is eligible for care, the 200 people who no longer receive a service have been helped to find alternative support wherever possible, and it is important to note that we are still providing a service to around 80,000 vulnerable and disabled people and older adults across our county.

Mary McElvaney

Strategic director

Adult Care