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Vulnerable adults and children to bear brunt of controversial cuts

County Hall, Matlock.

County Hall, Matlock.

Council chiefs have revealed a raft of cost-cutting plans which look set to hit the most vulnerable in society.

Derbyshire County Council (DCC) leader Cllr Anne Western told of her disappointment today as “devastating” proposals targeting vulnerable adults and children were announced.

The cash-strapped Labour-led authority needs to save £157m by 2018 as a result of Government cuts.

Cllr Western said: “We really don’t want to make these devastating cuts – we don’t relish this at all.

“We’re facing massive financial pressures like never before and that means we’ve got some difficult decisions to make.

“We don’t want to cut any services but we have no choice.”

Under the controversial plans, parents of disabled youngsters could be made to pay for their child’s transport to and from their place of learning.

The proposed changes could affect pre-school children, sixth form students and those aged 19 to 25 with a learning disability assessment.

Cllr Kevin Gillot, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “At a time when so many families are struggling with the cost of living crisis, it’s really disappointing that we have to consider asking them to pay towards providing transport for their children.”

In line with many other authorities, DCC is proposing to change who qualifies for council care and home help by raising the eligibility threshold to ‘substantial’.

This would mean that only people who have been assessed as having substantial needs or above would be eligible to receive on-going support from the council in the future.

The proposals could result in 2,700 people losing their social care from DCC while 7,000 more look set to face an increase in the amount they have to pay for it.

Cllr Clare Neill, cabinet member for adult social care, said: “I have some very difficult decisions to make over the next few months.

“We’re facing massive budget pressures and this will have a huge impact on adult care services in the future.”

The plans will be considered by councillors next Tuesday and will be subject to public consultation.

Visit www.derbyshire.gov.uk/challenge for more details about the proposals.

Plans in detail

Adult care

• Proposals to change who qualifies for council care and support at home by raising the eligibility threshold from ‘higher moderate’ to ‘substantial’ level. This would affect up to 2,700 people currently assisted by the council, saving £4.5m.

• Proposals to increase the financial contribution 7,000 people make towards their care support, saving £5.5m.

• Proposals to reduce the housing-related support budget by £9m. Housing-related support services help vulnerable people to set up and maintain a home where they can live safely and well.

• Proposals to introduce a charge of £5 for transport to get to a day service and home again.

Children’s services

• Proposals to introduce a charge of £349-a-year for transport for sixth form age pupils with special neducational needs or disabilities. This is the same rate charged to other sixth form transport users.

• Proposals to introduce a charge of £316-a-year for the cost of school transport for pre-school children with special educational needs. However, children from families receiving the maximum Working Tax Credit and entitled to free school meals would be exempt from the charge.

• Proposals to introduce a charge of £349-a-year for adults aged 19 to 25 with a learning disability assessment if they started their course before their 19th birthday. For those over 19 when starting their course, free travel would only be given where the council believed it was necessary.

• Proposals to terminate the council’s contract with HomeStart – a charity which supports families in Amber Valley, High Peak, South Derbyshire and Erewash. The council would continue to offer continued suppport to local people through its network of children’s centres.

Living wage

• The council’s lowest-paid staff, including cleaners, school catering assistants and school crossing patrol workers, would have their pay increased. The 3,000 staff would see an increase in their hourly rate from April 1. They would be paid £7.65-per-hour.


 
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