‘I will not be getting the care I have now’: Northampton man’s fears over social care cuts

Northampton man John Smith believes cuts to social services in Northampton will have a devastating effect on disabled people. xafmrKE07upQ-t3wulNR

Northampton man John Smith believes cuts to social services in Northampton will have a devastating effect on disabled people. xafmrKE07upQ-t3wulNR

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A former youth worker from Northamptonshire who has used a wheelchair all his life believes the £24 million of care cuts approved by the county council could have a drastic affect on lives.

John Smith, of Disabled People Against Cuts Northampton, says he has spent at least 10 years of his life in hospital. He is now 40.

He has a gap in his spine which means he has to use wheelchair and receives Continuing Healthcare through Northamptonshire County Council.

But on Monday the authority approved £24 million of cuts to adult social care, which will see it re-assess the care packages people are on to see where it can save money.

An outside company - Skylark - will be brought in to carry out assessments.

Mr Smith, from Daventry, has been visited by a personal trainer over the past four years and says this has helped to build his strength. He can just lift himself out of bed and he often gets out of the house on a hand bike, which provides him vital exercise. Four years ago he could not get into his car unassisted, now he can.

But like many others he fears he could lose parts of his care package under the cutbacks.

He said: “Whatever happens I will not be maintaining the good level of care that I have now. How can it when they are making such massive cuts to social care?”

A spokesman for the council said it was “committed to ensuring people have the care and support in place that they need”.

He added that individuals and their family or advocate “will be fully involved” in any review of their care package and any changes, “whether that’s an increase or reduction in the level of care.”

But Mr Smith said many are afraid of the unknown - and exactly how the cuts will impact disabled people.

“No one is telling us anything,” he said

“People will be thinking they are going to lose all sorts of things.

“It has been so hard to reassure people because £24 million is such a huge figure.”

Among the cuts in social care, the county council plans to re-negotiate its contract with Olympus care, which carries out a number of care services. The move would save just over £3 million, but it is not clear exactly how the cut will affect people.

A £1.8 million cut will be made by ensuring people are on more “targeted” care packages. Again, it is not fully known what this will entail.

Mr Smith, said though the cuts have been ratified, the protests are not likely to stop soon.

He said: “We are not going away because the cuts are not going away. Until they start listening to disabled people the campaign is going to get harder and more vocal.”

Anyone concerned about the social care cutbacks and their next assessments, can contact DPAC via northamptondpac@gmail.com