“The Big Conversation is a big con” says Mark Harrison chief executive of Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People. “It is not a conversation between equal parties as the County Council is deliberately withholding the information Norfolk citizens need to make an informed contribution.”
NCODP is challenging The Big Conversation on the amount and accessibility of the information available. NCODP doesn’t believe there is enough information or details for people to make an informed contribution. NCODP thinks the consultation needs to begin when sufficient information is available and that all the information is accessible in formats that the disabled citizens of Norfolk can access.
In addition NCODP is challenging The Big Conversation on its timing. NCODP does not believe that the current timetable meets statutory requirements so has requested a change in the timetable, for the consultation to begin when sufficient information is available and that all the information is accessible in formats that the disabled citizens of Norfolk can access.
NCODP submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) act request at the beginning of November for a copy of the legal advice given to NCC regarding:
* their reasoning for raising the eligibility criteria to ‘critical’
* their reasoning for cutting nearly 50% out of the prevention budget over the next three years
* a detailed breakdown of the services being affected by each of the budget cuts and the total spend in those areas so we can work out accurately the percentage cuts.
Under FOI requirements, The County Council has a statutory duty to respond in 20 days, but NCODP report the Council has failed to respond in any form.
“I can only draw the conclusions for the failure to provide the information requested. Either they have something to hide or this is just the token exercise we suspect it to be.” Mark Harrison stated.
NCODP believe that Norfolk County Councillors have decided to follow central government instructions to the letter and are imposing massive cuts in social care, which are by their own impact assessment both disproportionate and discriminatory.
The level of cuts will mean that disabled people and older people, their families and carers will be left without the services they rely on.
Mark comment further:
“I think that if the Norfolk County Councillors are serious when they say they have the best interests of Norfolk citizens at heart then they would tell the Coalition Government that it is not possible to implement £155m cuts without causing poverty and misery to the most vulnerable people in the community and refuse to do it.”
With over 180,000 disabled people in Norfolk the County Council’s severe cuts to services, above and beyond central governments requirements, alongside the national cuts to benefits and health care, will result in a dramatic and long lasting effect on a large part of Norfolk’s population.
This Saturday (4th December) NCODP - alongside hundreds of people from across Norfolk including public service users and employees - will be participating in the march in Norwich in defence of public services and jobs across Norfolk threatened by the Government and Norfolk County Council.
Mark Harrison is available for media interviews and can be contacted via the details below.
NCODP have launched a website to coordinate their Campaign Against the Cuts, which can be view at http://www.campaignagainstcuts.org.uk.
This press release can be found along with previous releases at http://www.ncodp.org.uk/
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The Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People (NCODP) is a human-rights group controlled by disabled people and their organisations. They organise and take part in campaigns and run services that promote social equality and dignity for all disabled people.
The NCODP regards having an impairment as a normal part of being human. Disability results from people with impairments being excluded by physical and social barriers and negative attitudes. Their main task is to challenge the many forms of discrimination created by these barriers and attitudes.
The NCODP believes that disabled people must take the leading role in decisions that affect their lives both locally and as part of the national and international disability movements in which the NCODP plays an active part. There must be “Nothing about us without us.”