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Labour councillor urges Conservatives to stick to their word over review of maintenance bills for disabled people

Labour councillors have urged their Conservative counterparts to stick to their word and review plans to make people with disabilities pay for the maintenance of equipment that helps them live independently at home.

Staffordshire County Council had drawn up the plans as part of a bid to meet the challenge of reduced funding and an increase in the social and healthcare bill facing the region.

Cllr Sue Woodward

Cllr Sue Woodward

But a meeting of the authority saw the Conservative Cabinet agree to revisit the proposals – a move which was welcomed by Burntwood councillor and leader of the opposition Labour group Sue Woodward.

She said: ““This is one of the cruellest cuts of all and hits those with disabilities who need specialised equipment to enable them live independently at home.

“They received a letter at the beginning of the year telling them that from April 1 they would be responsible for the maintenance and repair of their fixed equipment. No information about possible costs was given and it left people in fear about whether they could afford to cover these extra costs.”

The county council has also confirmed it will increase its share of the council tax bill by 4.95% in a bid to raise its income.

And Cllr Ian Parry, Deputy Leader and Cabinet member responsible for finances, said the authority would be spending a record amount on social care.

Speaking after outlining plans to increase the council tax bill, Cllr Parry said: “This budget, while undoubtedly the most challenging we have seen to date, will help us build on our track record of growing our economy and at the same time also see us, at a record £300m, spending even more on adults and children’s social care next year.

“With a growing ageing population to support, we all now need to look at doing a little more for ourselves where we can, while also paying a little more to help those who now need our help the most.”

But Cllr Woodward said it was important proposed changes to who was responsible for maintaining equipment are fully reviewed.

She said: “I spoke to local people and they and their carers were distraught as many of them have limited incomes. As one carer pointed out to me, the more disabled a person is, the more it will cost them to maintain their equipment, and therefore their independence.

“Disabled people have enough on their plate without this extra burden and we are hoping that the Conservative administration will be true to their word and radically review this decision.”

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