The Green Group of councillors have expressed their shock and disappointment at last night’s rejection of their motion calling on the council to protect funds to support independent living for the most severely disabled in the city.
The Green Group’s motion called on the council to ring-fence this, and any additional related funds, until 2019 to ensure that they are used for the purpose set out and not diluted into the bigger social care pot, which is being squeezed by government spending cuts. Green Group convenor, Phelim Mac Cafferty, pointed out that other local authorities have followed the advice of disability rights groups and ring-fenced the money, including: Conservative-run Hillingdon, Wokingham and Kensington and Chelsea; and Labour controlled Camden, Islington and Hammersmith and Fulham, and expected Brighton & Hove to follow suit.
However, at last night’s full council meeting, the Labour Group voted to not support any such ring-fencing and the motion fell.
Cllr. Phelim Mac Cafferty, who proposed the motion, said: “We are extremely disappointed that Labour have chosen not to support our motion and, in so-doing, are prepared to create uncertainty for the most severely disabled people in the community. Without the funding ring-fenced we are essentially saying that the independence and the dignity of our disabled residents doesn’t matter because they can join the scramble in the race to the bottom for whatever is left over. We say very clearly that that shouldn’t happen. For what I estimate to be in the range of £2 million pounds for the next 4 years we could provide hope for people being dragged to hell and back by the changes being imposed on them.
Cllr MacCafferty said: “Figures from Scope tell us that some 70% of disabled people, due to losing care and support services, were sometimes unable to wash, dress or eat. In the sixth richest country in the world why should our own residents have to live like this? Are some of our most disadvantaged residents not worth the dignity that you or I possibly take for granted to eat, drink, go to the toilet, to learn, to have a social life? At this moment in time, the cuts mean some of these very things will be thrown to the way side.
Cllr MacCafferty concluded: “We will not turn our backs on disabled people and we stand for hope for our residents with disabilities. We say no to turning back the clock to where disabled people were effectively prisoners in their own homes and had little independence. We need to stand up now for disabled people who are under attack.”