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Care cuts in Lincolnshire spark surge in demand at disability charity Mencap

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: September 17, 2012

Cuts to care services by local authorities have sparked an increase in demand at disability charity Mencap

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Cuts to care services have sparked a 360 per cent rise in demand for help from a disability charity.

Mencap recorded the increase between April and June this year.

The calls were from people with a learning disability and their families in Lincolnshire.

Cuts to personal support, fears about community care assessments and complaints about eligibility criteria changes by local authorities, are the main causes for concern.

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The Echo revealed in July that 119 jobs were being axed at day centres and community care services across Lincolnshire. Campaigners fear the job losses are a sign that some of the centres will eventually shut.

And Mencap officials are expecting the number of calls to continue rising.

"The situation doesn't look set to change and the most vulnerable people are feeling the effects of this, so we are expecting more calls from them and their families," said Michaela Butler, national team manager for Mencap Direct.

"Cuts to care services and changes to the eligibility criteria for care have left many people feeling vulnerable and isolated.

"People in Lincolnshire who phoned Mencap's helpline over the past year were most concerned about benefits, education and social care. The cuts are having a negative impact on the lives of people with a learning disability.

"Many people have reported reduced services, limited choice when it comes to services available to them, and some are actually missing out on services altogether."

The increase, from five calls between April and June 2011 and 23 in April to June 2012 represents the fifth largest rise in the country.

Lincolnshire County Council officials say that changing their eligibility criteria at the same time the increase was recorded could be a reason for the jump.

Glen Garrod, assistant director for adult social care, said: "The Government's move towards personal budgets and the need for councils to significantly tighten their belts have seen the biggest changes to social care in a generation. It's completely understandable that people feel anxious.

"Many of Lincolnshire's changes took place during this time period.

"Also, as Lincolnshire is a big county with a large and quickly rising adult population, the statistical effects will appear magnified in cases such as Mencap's figures.

"However, people should be very reassured that, in a great many instances, people's fears have not been realised as they soon discover the benefits of personal budgets, for example.

"It is actually important that people have a choice of organisations to approach for a range of specific or independent advice."

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