We will stand up and be counted

received from Liz Stevenson – Ilkeston, Derbyshire                     ( Carer Watch member )

photos sent by Wendy, taken by Martin Argles

We will stand up and be counted and shout from the roof tops about this injustice. We carers save the county £87 billion. Shall we start to charge for what we do out of love?

What will they do if we decide to call THAT debt in!

These attacks on carers, the old and the disabled are horrifying. The people that the Government and local councils said they would protect have now become the primary targets just like in Nazi Germany in the 1930s.

By their deeds shall we know them.

Where injustice becomes the law, resistance becomes necessary.

Do we have to be poorer, to struggle, to die so they can set their crazy budgets?

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing

We have a group where we live (in the Erewash Borough area of Derbyshire called Action for Carers in Erewash (ACE) and are also working with other carers in the neighbouring county of Nottinghamshire on issues that affect carers and are in the process of re-vamping brilliant website called Justice for Carers  that was started many years ago and is a record of the deeds of the Government and of our local councils by which we will know them. We have found that caring has no boundaries and we are carers who support each other in both counties where ever the need arises.

Derbyshire County Council voted to bring in their plans at the Full Council budget setting meeting on Wednesday 2nd Feb 2011. This was a very dark day for Derbyshire as we have now lost our unique and valued FREE Adult Social Care Service now e.g. charges for Home Help visits, Support visits for young disabled people, day services etc. will come in now for people who are already poor, already on low incomes, and suffering hardship and are going to be hit hard by the DLA and Carer Allowance reforms coming up. Social care service have been free (at the point of delivery) to the old, vulnerable and disabled people of Derbyshire for over 30 years so it was a big thing to lose for us even though other Councils have been charging for care services (taxing you for being disabled and old and frail, in my view!) for many years.

It was the attitude of the Conservative ruling group on Derbyshire County Council that day more than anything else that was so saddening – the fact that they think that money matters more than people and the way they rudely treated the carers who were there protesting with their banners, as if we were something they had brought in on the bottom of their shoes, laughing and sniggering at us and calling us “hecklers”. Now we have got to waste valuable time doing complaints against councillor’s for their conduct and report them to the Standards Board (if it still exists – I have a feeling that it’s been abolished though) but its got to be done to bring them to account.

It was like being in a room full of bankers apart from the Labour opposition councillors who bravely and continuously challenged their costings and plans with intelligent arguments and viewpoints. In other areas, though, Labour councillors are not so great – pushing through the same cuts and charges to social care services as the Tory councils are doing such as the Labour-controlled Nottingham City Council  and we have had no hesitation in telling them how we feel about what they are doing either!

This angry budget-setting Derbyshire County Council meeting on Wednesday lasted for over 6 hours starting at 2pm and finally finishing at 8.30pm and we had carers like Grenville Green from Nottingham there supporting us – outside the area but with caring there are no boundaries we have found. We stayed right to the bitter end with banners and placards and asking public questions, and chiming in and getting asked to be quiet, and being sniggered and laughed at by the Tories and being told to leave until they finally got to the vote on the budget cuts at about 8.30pm and they did the deed and it was voted through with a majority because the Tory always vote on party lines.

This will now bring in £40m worth of cuts to local services in Derbyshire which include  cuts to funding for vital voluntary organisations that help the unemployed and people with industrial injuries and all the cuts and charges in Adult Social Care.

It was a dark day for Derbyshire. Shame on them.

The Derby Evening Telegraph article  is about when we went to the Derbyshire County Council Cabinet meeting the week before on 25th January 2011 where the lead councillors voted to accept the various reports on cuts and charges including the Adult Social Care ones, and to send them through to the main Full Council meeting which we attended this week.

The reports from the officers recommended that charging be introduced for social care services and that the cost of stairlift maintenance be met by service users now instead of the Council, and for a change in the eligibility criteria for services to move away from the current level of “moderate” to something which they have now made up called “higher moderate” (and which they can provide no details!).

In the “consultation” that they held with users and carers back in late 2010, there was much concern raised by carers and disabled people about them introducing charges which they would do by taking at least £23.90 from people’s DLA or AA to “co-fund” their care service, (co-funding is what they call it, taxing people for being disabled and needing care is what we call
it!) and also a lot of concern during the consultation about their plans to move the eligibility criteria away from “moderate” to “substantial”.  They were going to change it to “substantial” but seemed to have backed off from this as the final report that went to Cabinet last week said they would now bring in a new category called “higher moderate” instead and only provide services for people in this category and above.

All these policies now mean that disabled people like my friend Wendy’s 30 year old Autistic son ( see pic above ) will be taxed for actually being disabled and will suffer hardship and more poverty and will rely more on their parent carers for support and money to live. He is trying to live independently with support from Council social care services (visits from staff who help him keep safe and go shopping and cook a meal) in his own flat which he moved to 2 years ago aged 28 after living with his parent carers all his life. He is already poor with a low income having only DLA to live on to pay for his rent, bills, food, social activities, wear and tear on household items (his Autism means he breaks a lot of things!)

The Guardian articles, here and  here  are about DLA changes and have pictures of me and Wendy and also of Wendy and her 30 year old Autistic son Mark.

We won’t be giving up – the battle may be lost but the war is not won yet!

Beached but not broken.


Liz Stevenson and Wendy Prati
Ilkeston, Derbyshire

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5 Responses to “We will stand up and be counted”

  1. Hindle-a Says:

    Liz-when my wife to be and I were contemplating where to live-we chose Derbyshire not least due to the friendliness,resilience, honesty and compassion of its people -they(we) did things differently here no matter what the political zeitgeist was and no matter how much pressure to “conform” was levied at the County-the Tories introduced charges 30 years ago and were turfed out at the next opportunity,this time though promising not to prior to taking control of the Council knowing how important it was to the citizens of Derbyshire,they have done it again,Derbyshire people are not fools dressing it up as co-funding means nought-they lied,it is my sincere hope that at the next opportunity they get turfed out;their attitude does not surprise me.The battle is lost but the war continues.

  2. ians12 Says:

    “Big Society” they call it, its best for all of us as we are in it together.

    Of course when Cameron is voted out of No 10 he has his millions to go back to.

  3. simon briggs Says:

    I have had my carers stoped this is knot fare I have contacted MR Skinner he is helping me all the way. And so will I do my best and i will knot stop to what Derbyshire and all the uk get.

  4. John Hargrave Says:

    The same thing is happening across the East Midlands. These cuts are crazy and should never be made in the first place. We have borrowed far less than a number of other countries (Look at Japan, USA). Making cuts will not remove this debt, all governments carry debt, always have done, always will. What we need is investment, getting people back to work, earning money and paying taxes, so more of their money can be spent thus boosting the economy. To put people out of work means many will have to go on benefits, with no tax being paid at all. The Tories are out to destroy the welfare state that has served us so well, unfortunately, it is the disabled and sick that will suffer most of all. We are easy targets after all!

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