Sunderland vigil against cuts impact on disabled people

Julie Elliott MP, centre, with Sunderland City Councillor sand disability rights campaigners at the Hardest Hit Vigil at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens.

Julie Elliott MP, centre, with Sunderland City Councillor sand disability rights campaigners at the Hardest Hit Vigil at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens.

4
Have your say

DISABLED people will suffer more than most as a result of the latest Government cuts, campaigners claimed today.

The Hardest Hit coalition, which travelled from Wearside to London in October to join thousands in a protest against austerity measures, have slammed the announcement of further cuts next year.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles told Parliament local authorities would have to cope with an average funding cut of 1.7 per cent in 2013.

It is thought Sunderland City Council will see its budget trimmed by £19.57million over the next two years, although the details have yet to be finalised.

Unions have warned it is only a matter of time until front-line services are affected and Hardest Hit fears disabled people will suffer most.

Co-chairman Steve Winyard said: “We are concerned that more cuts to local services will have a differential impact on the most vulnerable and, in particular, disabled people.

“The fairness of spending reductions between areas will be scrutinised, along with the individual choices of each council, by local people and groups to ensure due regard is paid to the equality impact of changes in the implementation of these cuts.

“As disabled people rely more on local councils than almost anyone else, the potential impact of this week’s funding settlement cannot be overestimated, particularly as it comes alongside confirmation in recent weeks that 600,000 are to lose access to Disability Living Allowance nationally.”

Meanwhile, it has emerged that cash-strapped Sunderland City Council has spent more than every other North East authority combined on tablet computers in the last two years.

A total of 159 have been bought for £130,776.73.

Council leader Paul Watson said: “Sunderland City Council has a reputation for and continues to explore new ways of working.

“Moving with the times means new technology.

“The city council has made efficiency savings of more than £100million in the last three years.

“Investing in our Smarter Working programme has helped deliver savings with more efficient and flexible working practices.

“Among the staff using tablet technology are social care workers who can progress assessments and work in service users’ homes.

“We have also reduced printing and paper costs through the use of tablets for meeting agendas and papers.”

Twitter: @sunechomark