Norfolk

Anger as Norfolk disability funding cut U-turn ruled out

Marilyn and Sara Heath
Image caption Marilyn Heath, who is the main carer for her daughter Sara, said the cuts were "morally reprehensible"

Disabled people and their families say they are angry at a council's refusal to reverse "inhumane" £4m funding cuts.

About 150 campaigners met Norfolk county councillors to oppose changes to the minimum income guarantee.

One campaigner Marilyn Heath, whose daughter Sara has Down's syndrome, said people were "angry" at their treatment by the council.

Conservative council leader Andrew Proctor said reversing the cuts was "not a reasonable financial decision".

The changes to the minimum income guarantee will mean the financial support paid to about 1,000 people in the county will be reduced.

Mrs Heath said her daughter's weekly income would fall from £189 to £132.

She said: "The mood at the meeting was quite passionate and quite angry. It will mean Sara will not be able to afford to do things such as socialising with friends or going out.

"She will only be able to live indoors.

"It is inhumane and morally reprehensible what they are doing to the most severely disabled people."

'Far from easy'

Mr Proctor said the council had been paying more than government guidelines suggest for the past five years.

"Changing it to the minimum income guarantee wasn't exactly an easy decision - far from it," he said.

"But we had to look at our overall budget... and make sure we have the savings that deliver our balanced budget that we legally are accountable for."

At the meeting, councillor Margaret Stone apologised for having called a couple campaigning to stop disability cuts "selfish".

The Conservative member resigned as chairman of the health, overview and scrutiny committee after coming under pressure.

She said: "I wish I had never sent the email, especially as I now see the hurt it has caused. I'm truly deeply sorry."

Campaigner Victoria Mardle, whose brother has Down's syndrome, said it was "really upsetting" the cut would not be reversed.

"People's lives are being restricted to their own homes, to one room," she said.

"These people have a right to live just as you and I do: going out to socialise, enjoy themselves."

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