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Councils’ lack of cash hits 7,000 elderly and disabled people

Independent feature based on False Economy researchIn the Independent today, there is a story based on False Economy freedom of information research*. The investigation looks at the adverse effects that councils' tightened eligibility criteria for care services has had on some of the UK's most vulnerable people.

The research is the latest in our series of FoI investigations into the true impact of council, voluntary sector and NHS cuts and changes.

The Independent reports:

"More than 7,000 disabled and elderly people have lost some or all of their state-funded support, after cash-strapped councils changed their rules on who qualifies for social care.

"In the past two years, at least 17 councils have withdrawn social care for people who they deemed to have "moderate needs". In the first two years of the coalition, 11 authorities told more than 5,000 elderly or disabled people that their care was being withdrawn, while more than 2,000 people saw their packages cut. A further six councils are cutting help in this financial year. According to council guidelines, those with "moderate" needs run the "risk [of] losing gas, electricity and water supplies", as well as "falling into debt", without support.

"Campaigners warn of a "system in crisis", which leaves vulnerable people to cope without the help they had come to rely upon.

"Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, is expected to announce changes to the care system this week in a White Paper and draft Bill on social care. These will seek to tackle the problem of eligibility criteria being suddenly changed."

You can read the rest of the article and case studies here.

As the article says, Andrew Lansley is due this week to deliver a white paper on the future of social care - but the white paper will released in the midst of controversy about delays in decisions on how to fund reform (there is more on that debate in the Guardian here).

Last year, member-led group Disability Equality Northwest took Lancashire county council to court for making cuts to people's care services while the council was still consulting on proposals to stop funding people in the "moderate" care category.

*FoI request run by researcher Sophie Fitzmaurice

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