A report out today shows that in Norfolk as many as 100,000 disabled people and their families face a reduction in their living standards by a third due to the combined effects of the government's taxation and welfare changes and cuts in services planned by Norfolk County Council.
The report: The impact of national budget cuts, tax changes and local reductions in services on disabled people and their families in Norfolk by economist Dr Chris Edwards, has been produced for Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People (NCODP) and will be submitted to the 'Big Conversation' consultation by Norfolk County Council. (which ends on the 10th January).
It will be launched at a presentation in The Curve, in the Forum, Norwich at 11am on Monday 10 January.
Also available will be a DVD of case studies, some of which will be shown at the launch. These highlight the impact of the cuts on the interviewed disabled people.
The report reveals:
Of Norfolk's 186,000 disabled people, 45,000 of working age on disability benefits will lose £526 per year, 8% of income each year.
Of Norfolk County Council's proposed £136 million cuts in services over the next 3 years, £45 million will directly and exclusively affect disabled people, representing a loss of services valued at £476 per disabled person per year, or about 7% of their income.
Disabled people will also be affected by other services cuts making the full impact even greater.
The increase in VAT is expected to add £158 to the essential bills of the average household and will mean a loss of about 2% of income for the poorest 50% of disabled people. As a direct consequence of the above, the poorest 53% of disabled people in Norfolk, around 100,000 people and their families, will see their living standards decline by a third over the next four years.
The conclusion is that the impact of the changes introduced by the coalition government together with the cuts proposed by Norfolk County Council will be devastating, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable and poorest group in society.
Mark Harrison, CEO of NCODP said: "This report provides the evidence for what NCODP has been saying all along about the cuts - that they discriminate against disabled people. Disabled people are experiencing double discrimination - cuts in benefits and regressive tax changes from central Government and devastation of local services, if Norfolk County Council implements its proposals in the Big Conversation.
We knew all along that there is not a level playing field and that disabled people are poorer and have fewer opportunities than their non-disabled peers. This report charts how disabled people are being scapegoated for a crisis which we had no part in creating. My message to Norfolk councilors is that these proposals are both discriminatory and disproportionate. If we are all truly 'in this together' and you are working in the interests of Norfolk citizens then you must tell the Coalition Government that it is not possible to implement their cuts."
Kathy Saunders, Chair of NCODP said: "The consequences of these proposed cuts are disastrous. They will be felt by all citizens of Norfolk for many years to come and will cause damage to vulnerable people and families which will be unnecessarily expensive or impossible to repair. These changes will blight the lives of disabled people who are finding it difficult enough already.
We know the best way of designing services and promoting independence is to develop provision with the people who use them. That is why NCODP have a co-production relationship with Norfolk County Council, Adult Social Services.
None of these proposals have been co-produced with us and we can see the devastating consequences of these cuts if they are implemented. There are better ways of handling this crisis rather than penalizing those who are struggling to make decent lives for themselves and their families."
The Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People (NCODP) is a human-rights group controlled by disabled people and their organizations. They organize and take part in campaigns and run services that promote social equality and dignity for all disabled people.
The NCODP regards having an impairment as a normal part of being human. Disability results from people with impairments being excluded by physical and social barriers and negative attitudes. Their main task is to challenge the many forms of discrimination created by these barriers and attitudes.
The NCODP believes that disabled people must take the leading role in decisions that affect their lives both locally and as part of the national and international disability movements in which the NCODP plays an active part. There must be "Nothing about us without us."
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