In January, Norfolk County Council took a decision to significantly reduce the Minimum Income Guarantee (the amount that disabled people are left of live on before they have to make a financial contribution to their care), saving the council £4 million.
While the council claim that the changes simply bring Norfolk in line with other authorities, it is having a severe impact on the quality of life, dignity and day to day activities of many impacted residents – residents that are some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.
Not only are some saying that they are having to cut essential care, but they are also having to reduce (or stop) access to leisure and social activities. These activities are so often a life-line for both the individual and their families, allowing them respite from the 24-hour support they are often required to provide.
In real terms, these changes mean that about 1,000 people are having to pay more for care and 1,400 are paying for care for the first time.
It is incredibly worrying that the County Council and the government are blaming each other for these changes, and yesterday, I welcomed residents from across Norfolk to Parliament to speak to local MPs about their individual struggles and what this means for their lives going forward if the changes are not reversed.
Sadly, it was only Henry Bellingham MP (MP for North West Norfolk) and Barbara Keeley MP (Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Minister for Social Care) that attended the lobby, although we were able to have a good discussion, hearing personal stories from a number of different families, and plan how the campaign could continue, both locally, and within Parliament.
A few constituents and I later also met with Caroline Dineage MP (the Government Minister for Health) to explain the situation people across Norfolk have been put in. I sincerely hope that she listened to the plight of my constituents and will do everything within her power to reduce the financial burden suddenly put on these families.
We need a properly funded health and social care system that works for everybody, and I am committed to doing all I can for my constituents (and those across Norfolk) to see these changes reversed.
(Here is an article explaining how some of my constituents missed the morning lobby all together due to poor disabled access routes on the London underground – yet another reminder of how difficult it can be for disabled people: https://www.eveningnews24.co.uk/news/campaigning-disabled-people-miss-parliament-lobbying-due-to-broken-lift-1-6325911?fbclid=IwAR2fcAoAl1LoLTyzWP1lco2d-M4UfISeIUK82rrLDrCnfViWoQraioJ72JM