Bristol: Letter from DPOs accuses care cuts council of ‘inhumane’ policies

Photos of Claire, Fazilet from Disability Rights UK and Rick from Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People.  Claire holds a placard: Hands off "Substantial Risk to Health" protection for claimants.  Rick holds a banner: "Make UNCRPD law".

Shared from Disability News Service — thanks to John Pring.

Note by WinVisible: At the 2 May local elections, the Mayor of Bristol will be abolished and it’s widely expected that Bristol Green Party will become the governing party.  So far, the Greens opposed the cuts budget as “unrealistic” and “cruel” but haven’t made definite commitments: We all will have to make sure that there is change.


By John Pring on 18th April 2024    Category: Independent Living

Four disabled people’s organisations have written to Bristol’s mayor to call on him to abandon “inhumane and unacceptable” social care policies that are set to breach disabled people’s right to live independently.

Disability Rights UKGreater Manchester Coalition of Disabled PeopleInclusion London and WinVisible all expressed their “deep concerns” about the proposed actions of Bristol City Council.

They have written to both the Labour mayor, Marvin Rees, and the leader of the council’s Green Party – currently its largest party – over plans that would “fail to uphold the rights of Disabled people in Bristol to receive the care and support they need based on personal choice”.

They say the policies would be a clear breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

The letter follows the council’s decision to withdraw its controversial draft Fair and Affordable Care Policy, which stated that disabled people could be offered a “residential or nursing home placement” if “a care package to remain at home would substantially exceed the affordability of residential care”.

But after withdrawing the draft policy, the council brought forward new cuts worth millions of pounds that are also likely to push disabled people into residential care.

The grassroots group Bristol Reclaiming Independent Living (BRIL) accused the council last month of trying to bring in the much-criticised policy “through the back door”, as it aimed to save nearly £7 million from its funding of adult care and support packages in 2024-25.

The four disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) have now told the mayor that the new proposals are “arguably worse” than the “outrageous” Fair and Affordable Care Policy.

As part of its new plans, the council will review the care packages of at least 190 disabled people with what the council calls “complex” packages of support.

The letter warns that the under-resourcing of advocacy services in Bristol will mean that the disabled people targeted for review will not be able to access the support necessary to understand or exercise their rights.

The DPOs told the mayor in the letter: “Given this budget, it’s easy to understand why so many Bristolians do not have confidence that you are genuinely committed to working with the local Disabled community to co-produce and improve the provision of care and support.”

And they said they struggled to understand how the council could justify spending £1,550,000 on a consultancy firm to carry out the reviews of care packages when these consultants would be “cutting back provision of services on commission”.

They added: “Bristolians are facing the threat of being pressured into residential homes, which for many of us is a lonely bleak future which goes against our quality of life and breaks up family life.”

They said the policy would “disproportionately affect Disabled women”, as disabled mothers with high physical support needs fear having their children taken if they are forced into a care home.

The letter says: “Cuts in homecare add to dependence on partners, relationship pressures and risk of domestic violence… [while] women who drop out of homecare due to unaffordable charges, are often exploited, including by violent men, who they are forced to rely on for help.”

Rick Burgess, a GMCDP spokesperson, said: “What is happening in Bristol is emblematic of the struggle across the country as social care staggers from crisis to crisis… [while] Westminster parties refuse to acknowledge the reality of gross long-term systemic underfunding and uncollectable care charge debts.

“The urgent need is for transformation to support nationally-funded independent living in line with the UNCRPD.”

Claire Glasman, co-founder of WinVisible, said the council’s cuts and charges hurt disabled people, disabled people of colour, disabled women and family carers who are “already struggling to survive” with low income and high support needs.

She said that government spending on social care was half what it spends “on the military and bombing”, while “council spending on ‘child protection’ – the massive fees paid to the privatised child removal industry which profits from the trauma inflicted on mothers and children, placed in institutions where abuse is rife – is swallowing extra funds for adult social care, and must go instead to supporting families”.

Fazilet Hadi, DR UK’s head of policy, said: “Getting care and support when we need it, in the way we choose and without charge, should be an absolute right, on a par with our entitlement to NHS services.

“Central and local government have had decades to improve social care, as recommended by numerous reports, and yet they have allowed social care to reach crisis point.

“It is not disabled people that should pay for these failings.

“A radical new approach to social care is now needed.

“It should be overseen by a new National Independent Living Service and delivered locally by disabled people-led organisations.

“The current system just doesn’t work and totally lets down disabled citizens of all ages.”

A Bristol City Council spokesperson said: “We understand that the mayor’s office has received this letter and will be responding in due course.”

Picture: (From left to right) Claire Glasman, Fazilet Hadi and Rick Burgess

Discover more from WinVisible

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

Leave a Reply