Disabled people are ‘let down’ as services face huge funding shortfall

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Disabled people are being let down and their carers forced into poverty because services are chronically underfunded and the Government has failed to publish future plans for the care of vulnerable people.

The warning has been made by charities and campaign groups amid growing frustration that a long-delayed Green Paper on the future adult social care has not yet been published.

Today the Yorkshire Post begins a week-long series of stories on disability rights issues as Ministers face growing calls for action.

Charities say that despite assurances that the lives of carers will be made easier, many are struggling to make ends meet as they provide round-the-clock care for loved ones.

Warnings have also been made that following a wave of optimism during the London Paralympics of 2012, disability issues are once again becoming “taboo”.

And action is being urged to improve access to benefits, vital equipment and care packages for disabled people and their families. Disabled charity Sense said three out of four families of disabled adults with complex needs in Yorkshire were worried about how future care needs would be met.

Kate Fitch, Director of Policy and Communications, said: “Despite this social care crisis, we’ve been waiting over 700 days for the Government to publish the Social Care Green Paper.

“We believe it’s time to say enough is enough. Action is needed now and Government must take the first step towards a long-term funding solution for the sector. The Government has failed disabled people and their families who have been left without support.”

Scope has also warned of a huge funding gap for disabled care unless urgent action is taken.

James Taylor, the charity’s Head of Policy, said: “Chronic underfunding and under-investment all too often mean that social care barely ensures disabled people survive, rather than leading genuinely independent and fulfilling lives.

“We hear from disabled people that they feel they no longer have control over their care and that rationing prevents many from living the life they choose.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said “We are committed to ensuring everyone has access to the care and support they need and have provided local authorities with access to up to £3.6bn more dedicated funding for adult social care this year and up to £3.9bn for next year.

“We will shortly set out our plans to reform the social care system for adults of all ages to ensure it is sustainable for the future.”

Concerns raised by charities and campaigners include rising numbers of disabled people struggling to claim the benefits they need to live on.

Thousands have only been awarded Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) benefits after taking their claims to a tribunal.

Warnings have also been made over the cost of living for disabled people who have to spend more on essential goods and services like heating their homes, insurance, equipment and therapies

Last year, research by the charity Scope found that on average, disabled people face extra costs of £583 a month.

Elsewhere, action has been urged to improve access to vital equipment and NHS-funded care packages for those who need it.

Charities have warned of “blanket bans” on equipment including specialist car seats for disabled children in parts of the country.

And families have been waiting long and stressful delays while waiting to find out if they are eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare (CHC), a care package for people with high needs arising from disability, accident or illness.

Thousands of People have been denied access to CHC, and the charity Parkinson’s UK has been calling for an urgent overhaul.

A spokesperson for the charity said: “We have heard from many people who have had to wait over three years for a decision, with the person not getting their CHC decision before dying.”

Health bosses have said people are assessed for CHC using national guidelines, and that alternatives are offered if patients are not eligible.

A survey also found that disabled people are being frozen out of findings jobs and face an unwelcoming workplace environment.

The results of an employment study suggested that almost one in five disabled workers have had a job offer withdrawn because of their health condition.

A survey of 1,600 disabled adults by the disability charity Leonard Cheshire found that three out of four had stopped work because of a disability or health condition. Almost one in five who had applied for a job in the past five years said the employer withdrew the offer as a result of their disability. A separate poll of 500 managers showed that two-thirds believed the cost of making workplace adjustments were a barrier to employing a disabled person.