My 2013/14 Budget speech at Full Council

I didn’t really plan a speech but contributions from the Tories and Lib Dems got me inspired to stand up at the Budget setting meeting on Monday. Here is what I said;

“in 2013, the horizon is very different for disabled people.

Cllr Kansagra [Leader of the Brent Conservative Party] said in his speech that vulnerable people are protected in changes made by Government….. but that’s as true as a Lib Dem Focus leaflet I received a couple of weeks ago that said that David Clues was my ‘local’ Councillor when he’s living in Brighton.

What about Disability Living Allowance, where by the Government’s own admission, 200,000 will lose out on their disability benefits?

By the Government’s own admission, thousands will lose out on Carer’s Allowance because of the way that benefits interact with eachother.

This Budget supports carers with the introduction of a new Carer’s Hub. Mr Mayor, there are 23,000 Carers in Brent. People providing care to their loved ones in ways that we cannot even imagine. We will create a single access point for carers in Brent.

What about Employment Support Allowance? Disabled people who have worked all their lives and find themselves in adversity will have their benefits slashed if they have not found a job in 12 months

And what about the Bedroom Tax? Couples where one individual has to sleep in a hospital bed and the couple cannot share a room will be penalised for having an “extra” bedroom.

This Budget continues to offer hope and support to the Voluntary Sector – to the Brent CAB, who will often be the first point of call for Brent people affected by these changes.

Mr Mayor, Labour is the Party that offers hope to people in Brent at a time when examples are taken out of context and are out of the norm and are being used to soften the public mood for benefit changes that are damaging the lives of disabled people.

Mr Mayor, given the Lib Dem and Tory record in Government, I dread to think what they would do to services valued by the most vulnerable if god forbid the Lib Dems & Tories had control at this Town Hall again – and it’s with this I end my statement and support this Budget and it’s amendments.”

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Government cuts support to Carers

One of the lesser emphasized changes with disability benefits is the issue of passporting and the way that benefits interact with each other.

I was gutted after seeing this document – LINK

CA PIP document

By the Government’s own estimations, they will cut financial support to thousands of carers across the country in the transition from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Ex-caregiver and striking wharfie joins striki...
Ex-caregiver and striking wharfie joins striking caregivers (Photo credit: Simon Oosterman)

In Brent, we have increased support to carers and work is underway to introduce a Carers Hub which will act as a single point of access for Carer support. The contract has been awarded to the Brent Carers Centre – LINK

In addition, at Monday night’s Executive, our Labour run Council decided to go against guidance issued by the Department of Health which permitted Councils to take Carer’s income into account when charging for care services.

Brent Labour to introduce a Carers Hub!

Caregiver joins her striking caregivers
(Photo credit: Simon Oosterman)

In my first Executive meeting on 21st May 2012, I will be the responsible Member for introducing the item on inviting tenders for introducing a Carers Hub to Brent. The Carers Services Hub will provide a single point of contact for carers through the coordination and delivery of a wide range of services.

Through consultation with carers, we were told that people were frustrated with the system and the lack of a clear pathway to access help and support. Through this Carers Hub, we aim to create a single point of contact for unpaid carers and better coordinate services to them. It will also serve as a reference point for voluntary sector organisations providing support services to people in Brent.

The Carers Hub Model is endorsed by the Princess Royal Trust for Carers as a best practise model. We will be pooling our Budget with NHS Brent in order to deliver this.