Conservatives' County Hall Budget Prioritises Cuts to Disability Allowances

2 Mar 2024

At February's County Council budget meeting, local Lib Dems attacked the Conservatives' cruel proposals to raise cash from vulnerable and disabled people.

The Liberal Democrats on Norfolk County Council have slammed Conservative plans to reduce the minimum income guarantee (MIG) for people with disabilities as part of its attempts to save £52.2 million in 2024/25. The MIG is the amount of money people can earn before they have to start paying for their own care. The Council is considering lowering the MIG from £187 a week to £171.25, and the proposal has gone out to public consultation.

Leader of the Lib Dems on Norfolk County Council, Brian Watkins, has slammed the move saying:

Cllr Brian Watkins

Cllr Brian Watkins, Leader of the Lib Dems in Norfolk

"The Council should not be targeting vulnerable people at a time like this. To expect people to have to pay more for their care when they are already facing great hardship is deeply unfair at any point in time, but especially now, when the very poorest and most vulnerable in our society are suffering so much. It is callous and unfair."

We also highlighted concerns about Norfolk’s SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) service, and in particular the delays in producing and completing Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP) for vulnerable children. Our budget amendment proposed recruiting two additional review officers to help deal with the backlog. There was also recognition of the county’s increased risk to flooding and our party’s budget amendment called for an additional flood risk officer to be employed. Other plans included setting up a Cost of Giving fund allowing unpaid carers and charities to apply for funds to help with their needs.

You can watch Cllr Watkins' official response to the Conservatives' budget at the council meeting here:

Funding for Norwich’s Western Link, but doubts remain.

In other financial news for Norfolk, the controversial Western Link has gone one step closer to coming off the drawing board.

The Department of Transport has finally given the green light to fund 85% of the cost of the proposed Norwich Western Link (NWL) Road, which was estimated at around £251 million in early 2022. However, with the final bill likely to exceed £300 million, there could still be a considerable shortfall of funding for the project.

Brian said, "If the Government doesn’t increase its offer, it’s very difficult to see how the council can raise the additional money’’. With a likely public inquiry and legal challenges almost certain, the future of the NWL remains very much in doubt.

Warm and Well Winter Campaign

Norfolk County Council has just launched a new campaign to support people to keep warm and well over the winter months. The campaign aims to come forward with actions that people can take to manage their own health and wellbeing, and thereby reducing the pressure on health and care services. These initiatives include the following:

  • Reduce pressure on A&E by encouraging the public to visit/use other health resources such as walk-in centres and pharmacies.
  • Encouraging eligible people to have their flu and covid vaccinations.
  • Improve awareness and uptake of hardship support and services.
  • Support people to care for their mental health and signposting to available resources.
  • Encouraging more self-care and advice, including looking out for older or vulnerable friends, neighbours and family.
  • Reminding people of the steps they can take to be prepared for winter and help prevent health problems from getting worse.

The Liberal Democrats supported the new initiative and encourage users to visit the Warm and Well Campaign portal.

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