Norfolk disability benefit cuts is ‘robbery’ says mum


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Marilyn and Sara Heath

Image caption

Marilyn Heath is the main carer for her daughter Sara

Disabled people will be “locked indoors” due to increases to social care costs, a mother has claimed.

Marilyn Heath cares for her disabled daughter Sara whose income will fall by a third because of changes imposed by Norfolk County Council.

“To take money from disabled people in 21st Century Britain is unbelievable,” said Mrs Heath.

But the council said government funding cuts meant it had no option but to impose higher charges for social care.

Image caption

Sara uses her disability benefit to pay for transport to social activities

Sara, 23, has Downs syndrome and needs 24-hour care at her home in Horstead near Norwich.

Her Personal Independent Payment benefit pays for care and activities, such as swimming and social outings.

Now the cost of those activities is going up while the guaranteed minimum income level for people on benefits is going down.

Mrs Heath said Sara’s £189 weekly allowance will fall to £132.45 and, with rising charges, her income will be cut by 34% and she will no longer be able to afford transport to activities.

She said Sara’s benefits should not be “robbed by the council” to pay for services which were previously less expensive or free.

Conservative-run Norfolk County Council approved cuts to its adult social care budget of £27m last year and £19m this year and is due to face a further cut of £27m in 2020-2021.

The total adult social care budget for 2019-2020 is £428m.

Image caption

Bill Borrett accepted that a council consultation had shown most people were against the changes

Bill Borrett, cabinet member for adult social care, said Norfolk was the last authority in the East of England to switch to the lower level of minimum income guarantee and the decision had not been taken lightly.

“We have to be very careful with the resources we have so while everybody may not get what they want it is our responsibility to ensure they get what they need,” he said.

He called for the government to publish plans for managing adult social care and funding it in the long term.

Watch a full report on BBC Sunday Politics East on 14 July 2019 on BBC1 starting at 11:00 BST.


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