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Citizens push back against council’s decision to cut funding to mobility equipment

29th March 2017

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

Staffordshire County Council made an unpopular decision to cut funding to mobility equipment repairs and informed citizens that come April 2017, they would be responsible for the maintenance and repair of their own equipment. These cut-backs were in an effort to save the authority £1 million from its budget for assistive technology and adaptations for people with disabilities.

Many feel this is short-sighted on their part, with many vulnerable residents reliant on assistive equipment and unable to afford repairs on their own incomes. There were concerns that should, for example, a stair lift brake, and the resident was unable to cover the stair lift cost, they would be unable to maintain their independent housing. This may force more people into supportive housing or a care home and thus inflict more expense on the council. Not only was the proposal unpopular, but the letter sent to the residents was apparently ‘very abrupt’ leaving citizens were ‘worried to death’ as Ms Atkins, Councillor for Leek South, told The Sentinel

Thankfully, with the aid of Ms Atkins and opposing council members, the decision is under review and Alan White, the cabinet member for care, has agreed it is ‘entirely reasonable’. However this is a difficult decision that many county councils must make as funding is cut or diverted and deficits must be filled. Alan White responded to the issue of an aging population with this statement:

“The fact of the matter is that, in social services and across the county, we've got more and more people who are older, they're living longer, but they're not living healthily for longer. So we've got more people, costing us more and they're sicker. The problem we have as an authority that we have to solve is, how do we care for people that we are responsible for? Sometimes we do things that we might want to take back and take a look at again, because it might have been done a little hastily. Taking a bit more time to look at it and the consequences of those decisions will do everyone a favour."

While a sustainable solution is necessary, the residents of Staffordshire are relieved that the plan is under review and their complaints have been heard.