VULNERABLE people living with disability are struggling to pay the rising costs of care charges at the hands of many of Scotland’s Councils.
Now one group of people in Dumfries & Galloway are determined to fight back and have set up the Right to A Real Life campaign to force their Council to back down.
Earlier this year the Council agreed to lower the income allowance that people aged under 60 would be able to keep before being charged for care services from £177 to £132, while increasing the tax rate on income allowance from 55% to 65%.
For the Council, this means an extra £423,000 a year in income. For those who need care services, it means poverty, deprivation and a reduction in their quality of life as costs soar by as much as 600%.
Many people living with disability, and their families and carers, say they cannot afford to meet these costs and will struggle to survive if they have to go on paying them.
Andrew Doyle, Chair of the Learning Disability Alliance Scotland, is one of the people affected by the increased care tax in Dumfries and Galloway and has helped form the Right to A Real Life campaign to force the Council to back down.
Andrew calls the increase an “unfair attack” on those with support needs with people paying between £25 and £35 a week more for their care package. The rising costs are seeing some having to pay up to £70 a week out of their small incomes.
“We are really worried people will stop their support because of the cost and end up being at risk of needing far more help in the future when they get into a crisis,” explained Andrew. “This will put more pressure on the NHS, affecting us all. It doesn’t make sense.”
He added that the increase was making life “much harder” for people who already live on tight budgets.
He said: “That’s why I have got together with other disabled people in the area to campaign for the ‘Right to A Real Life’. We call on the Council to reverse its decision.”
The Dumfries campaigners have really given a boost to others all over Scotland who are worried about the Care Tax. Both Highland and Perth & Kinross are doing the same thing as in Dumfries. And other councils are seeking to raise charges again next year to help with their reduced budgets.
However there is a Members Debate in the Scottish Parliament in December calling for an end to all care charges. More and more MSPs are beginning to question why disabled people are being asked to pay so much when they often have so little.
Support the Dumfries campaign by signing the Right to A Real Life online petition at www.change.org. You can also find out more about the campaign by going to the Right to A Real Life Facebook page.
Care Charging Case Study:
Lesley’s Story - What The Increase Really Means
Lesley, aged 25, lives with her parents in Dumfries & Galloway. She has a number of conditions, uses a wheelchair and needs care and support inside and outside the home. Her care charges have gone up from £5.03 a week to £31.30. For Lesley this means she will no longer be able to afford to go out with her carers, do things in her local community and spend time with other people.
She said: “My personalisation care plan meant I could do things without my mum. I could go places and speak to people, buy things for myself and order my own meals. I became more confident. Now I will have to give all that up, which I really don’t want to do but I can’t afford to pay for it now.
“I feel it’s always the disabled people that get hit the hardest. It’s as if we are an easy target. I thought personalisation was set up to help disabled people not make things worse.”