Controversial increases to the cost of social care for people with disabilities has been put on hold until early next year.
Nottinghamshire County Council agreed to implement changes to individual’s contributions towards the cost of care and support earlier this year.
With the changes in place, more than 800 severely disabled people in Nottinghamshire could see their cost of social care rise from zero to as high as £56 per week.
The move by the Conservative-led county council was described as ‘organised cruelty’ by opposition councillors.
The decision to put a hold on the changes follows a £9.5 million cash injection made to the council by the government, in addition to concerns made by those most affected by the new proposals during a summit last week.
Councillor Stuart Wallace, Chairman of the Adult Social Care and Health Committee said that those concerns were listened to closely.
He said: “The changes the council is making to its care contributions policy are in line with many other local authorities and entirely consistent with Department of Health and Social Care Guidelines.
“Even so, we have listened carefully to the concerns expressed by some people about the timescale for implementation, and now we propose to phase these changes in more gradually, which will give people more time to prepare and to consult our specialist financial advice services.
“The funding received by the government is one-off funding, but we are using short-term flexibility this offers within our budget to bring the changes in more gently.
“It does not alter the overall purpose of the policy, which is to ensure a fair and sustainable long-term approach to individual contribution that is consistent with the rest of the county.
“If we didn’t introduce this, we would only put at risk other critical services we provide.”
When the changes were first approved earlier on this year, many recipients complained that they were given as little as 48 hours’ notice.
John Parrott, a retiree from Retford , cares for his two disabled sons, who are identical twins who live with identical disabilities.
He said that he only given two days’ notice that charges were going to increase from zero to £38 a week for each of his sons.
Representatives from Nottinghamshire County Council spoke at a heated and emotional summit of carers, industry leaders and people with learning disabilities.
John spoke during the summit on Friday, November 30, about the impact the change has had on his and both of his sons’ lives.
He said: “It’s going to break families apart. I am fortunate with my family, but others are really struggling.”
Cllr Wallace, who represents the Newark East ward for the Conservatives was present at the summit alongside service director Paul Johnson, who is the officer in charge of social care.
Both left the meeting early due to prior appointments.
Speaking after both councillors left, Mr Parrott added: “I think it’s disrespectful to the people who have turned up.
“They have made this decision for political reasons, but now they have just fobbed us off, and they can’t even answer our questions.”
Prior to leaving the summit, Cllr Wallace apologised ‘if we got it wrong’ on the decision.
Despite the increased costs being put on hold, one councillor has launched a petition to reverse the decision entirely.
Councillor Sonya Ward, from Mansfield District Council has called the changes ‘unfair’ and ‘immoral’.
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