SLASHING county council services for people with learning disabilities by £700,000 would be ‘frightening’, a group based in the town has warned.
Members of the Comet Group have expressed a number of concerns to Worcestershire County Council as part of the Future Lives consultation, which discusses plans to reduce the council’s budget for Adult Services and Health from £145million to £122million by 2016/2017.
Learning disability support would be cut by 70 per cent as a result, slashed from £965,900 a year to £265,700.
Services helping adult sufferers to access leisure facilities would be axed altogether due to little evidence to suggest it was working, the council has claimed.
Spending on ‘day opportunities’ to help people with learning disabilities into work would be cut by 70 per cent, as would support which helped people sustain their homes.
But the council has vowed to freeze funding for ‘essential’ advocacy and engagement services which help sufferers and their families access adult social care and have a say on the delivery of support.
If the proposals go ahead demand is likely to increase for services like the Comet Group, which meets weekly in Malvern and encourages people to speak up about the difficulties of living with learning disabilities.
A spokeswoman said the cuts would see even more people become isolated and struggle to find work, and claimed reduced support to help sufferers maintain independence in their own home would be seriously harmful.
“Some will not be able to cope and they will get into debt because they cannot understand their bills and people could lose their benefits because they can’t read letters.
“Other people will get ill and abused and won’t know how to find help.
“The council says it wants people to be more independent but people with learning disabilities need support to learn the skills they need to stay safe and well.
“Some of us will need that support all our lives.”
The spokeswoman added that a small bit of support made a big difference to people’s lives and cutting preventative services would cost the council more money in the long run.
Last week, the Chase Brass Band handed over £1,000 to the Comet Group which was collected during Christmas.
Rachel Barrett, group chair added: “This is a frightening time for all of us who need support.
“Our members will be badly affected by the changes.
“So next year our group will be more important to them than ever.
“Thanks to the Chase band we can try and make sure people with learning disabilities in Malvern have the support they need to stay safe and well in 2014.”
Visit www.cometgroup.org.uk or call Rachel on 07792 478871 for more information joining the Comet Group.