East Sussex Disability Association (ESDA), the only user led charity in East Sussex working with all disabled people, whatever their impairment, says it will be hit hard if severe funding cuts are made.
ESDA provides the Centre for Independent Living for East Sussex, a crucial resource for disabled people seeking advice, information and emotional support.
But East Sussex County Council has announced proposals to slash its Adult Social Care budget by £40m - a move which would affect agencies and charities supporting some of the most vulnerable people in society.
Linda Pawlowski from ESDA said: “ESDA fears that the upcoming cuts to Adult Social Care in the county will hit hard at many third sector services like ours that supports the most vulnerable residents; it is possible that some of these charities may cease to exist altogether.
“If this should happen, disabled people would face losing important representations and independent sources of both social and emotional support and information and advice.
“This is the most serious threat to date to already beleaguered third sector organisations.”
If approved, the £40m cut will be in addition to the £28m that has been cut from the same budget since 2013.
This means that there will be the equivalent of £300 a year less to spend for each man, woman and child in East Sussex.
Among the swathe of cuts, ESCC wants to slash spending on voluntary organisations services from £2 million across the whole county to £1.6 million.
Linda said: “It appears to have only a vague idea what the impact of this cut will be and has not properly assessed the impact or provided alternatives.
“Following years of Central Government cuts to: housing (bedroom tax, housing benefits cuts and increased rents); income (increased VAT and utility bill costs) and care (cuts in children’s services, adult social care and personal budgets as well as increased means testing and the closure of the Independent Living Fund), people in East Sussex now face the prospect of seriously damaging local government cuts.
“Amongst the drastic 80 percent cuts to charities proposed is the withdrawal of the funding for ESDA’s Centre for Independent Living.
“These ESCC proposals, if enacted, not only threaten third sector services in the county, but also hit the poorest people hardest.
“Despite many calls for Central and Local Government to carry out a “cumulative impact assessment” in order to calculate the impact that many of these policies will have on the some of the most vulnerable members of our society, the assessment hasn’t taken place.
“But we know that together, local government and benefits bear more than 50 percent of all cuts made.”
Linda added: “East Sussex Disability Association (ESDA) supports the right of all disabled people in the county to have choice and control in their lives and to be included as equal members of society.
“It is getting harder to support disabled people when cuts unfairly target them (cuts hit disabled people four times as hard and for anyone who needs social care services, the hit is six times harder).
“Four percent of the population bearing 13 percent of the burden of the cuts seems disproportionately harsh.
“At ESDA, we are concerned that the cuts do not respect or fulfil the rights of disabled people.
“The UK has signed a number of International Human Rights treaties including The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and The United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.
“This ‘austerity’ definitely represents a step backwards, and does not uphold the rights of disabled people and ESDA believes that it may be a violation of obligations under international law.
“ESDA is now calling on Disabled People in East Sussex - and anyone who uses or cares about services in the county - to take action now on the imminent cuts to local Adult Social Care services across East Sussex.”
A public consultation is now underway and the residents of East Sussex have until December 18 to let East Sussex County Council know what they think of the proposals.
Complete the online survey at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/ascbudget or download it from the website and post it to: ASC Budget Consultation 2015, County Hall, St. Anne’s Crescent, Lewes, BN71UE.
Alternatively, contact ESDA on 01323 514500 if you would like a paper version to be posted to you or if you would like to attend the accessible training suite where staff or volunteers will be happy to help you complete the survey.
Linda added: “This is everyone’s chance to demonstrate what need there is for services in East Sussex.
“It is important because it’s the only opportunity to make your case for keeping services open for the most disadvantaged residents of our county.
“ESDA is calling for disabled people in East Sussex to make their voice heard.”
* Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
1) Make our website your homepage at www.hastingsobserver.co.uk/
2) Like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/hastingsobserver
3) Follow us on Twitter @HastingsObs
4) Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!
The Hastings Observer - always the first with your local news.
Be part of it.