Monday, 14 March 2011

Plea to Prime Minister to honour pledge

This is the text of the letter, sent on behalf of all the families, to Prime Minister David Cameron in a bid to save Lancashire's 8 respite centres from Lancashire County Council's cuts which Lancashire say they have been forced to make due to cuts to central government grants:

Dear Mr Cameron,

Before the general election in 2010 when discussing the budget deficit you said that if you won the election and any cabinet minister came to you and said, "Here are my plans" and they involved frontline reductions, they would be sent straight back to their department to go away and think again.

We appeal to you as parents of disabled children that the time to think again is here and urgent.

Our council, Lancashire, a Conservative council, is making substantial cuts to services for disabled children and adults.

70% of the cuts in Lancashire are reportedly to frontline services including the closure of some disabled children's respite centres. These provide vital breaks for parents so that families who you know do so much already can continue to care for their children.

The arguments for closure the Local Authority are putting forward are flawed.

While nationally ministers have made statements that frontline services should not be affected, care should not be cut and the eligibility criteria in adult social care should not be tightened this is exactly what is happening here in Lancashire.

Our council tells us that the Early Intervention Grant from which it must provide services for disabled children and their families is a cut of 19.2% on predecessor grants received.

Clearly the council does not think it can protect frontline services by making savings elsewhere by the measures Communities Secretary Mr Pickles has been suggesting and nor presumably can it be accused of making politically motivated cuts as it is a Conservative council.

While Mr Pickles and other ministers continue to insist that frontline services can be protected our council continues to insist that it has no choice but to make these cuts. Desperate families are caught in the middle of these claims and counter-claims.

As governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King recently stated the price for the financial crisis and recession is being borne by those who absolutely did not cause it and that he is surprised that there is not more anger. Well families are angry but many are too exhausted, too busy with their caring role and too battle-weary already from years of fighting for the services they need, to express it. This must not mean their plight should go unnoticed.

We cannot believe that you would allow this to happen to disabled children and their families.

Our appeal is that you either intervene to make the necessary funds available or you use the forthcoming budget to redress some of the cuts to local government funding which are clearly impacting on some of the most vital frontline services which you said you would protect.

We would also like to invite you to visit to see what fantastic work the respite centres do and to discuss the issues involved.