Bristol Council drops adult care plans following campaign

The proposed Fair and Affordable Care Act, which would have seen Bristol’s disabled residents forced into care homes if their independent living and at home care costs were seen as ‘too expensive’, has been scrapped following campaigning by grassroots Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs).

Local DPO Bristol Reclaiming Independent Living (BRIL) led the campaign to stop the introduction of the policy, which said that disabled people could be offered a residential or nursing home placement if a care package to remain at home ‘would substantially exceed the affordability of residential care’.

city with high rise buildings under blue sky during daytime

Following the announcement of the policy in 2023, Disability Rights UK (DRUK) slammed Bristol Council’s plans to remove disabled people’s right to at-home care as ‘absolutely unacceptable’ and in breach of the law.

Following a campaign by BRIL and allies across the disability movement, Helen Holland, the Bristol councillor responsible for social care, wrote to the chair of the Bristol Disability Equality Commission and other disabled campaigners to say that the policy had been dropped and that the council would launch an inquiry to work with disabled people to develop a new proposal.

‘I particularly note the strong concerns that some Disabled People in our city and nationally have raised,’ Holland wrote in her letter. ‘I am keenly aware of the worries that the consultation has provoked for some people regarding their personal circumstances.’

Following the announcement that the policy was being scrapped, BRIL said: ‘Disabled people are not to blame for financial crisis or for austerity. While we recognise the harm caused by 14 years of government cuts to local authorities, councils must still make choices with communities, and decisions that are both lawful and in the interests of people they aim to serve.

‘To begin with an aim to ‘allocate Adult Social Care funding within the agreed budget’ suggests that Bristol City Council may not have fully taken on board the concerns of Disabled people, or the advice of our legal counsel. We believe that allocation of support based on budgets, rather than need, may lead to unlawful decisions contrary to The Care Act 2014. We wish to work in true co-production with the council, and not to be brought back to the situation we were in before the policy was withdrawn.

‘An inquiry where the terms are already set is not co-production. The inquiry must independent and be genuinely co-produced with Disabled people and our organisations, and include the voices and experiences of the most marginalised people and communities.

‘The decision to produce a report in October 2024 risks passing responsibility onto whoever has overall control after the local and national elections. This will only add to the worries of Disabled people and families.’

Image: William Chang

More on this topic:

Squeezed adult care providers closing services and rejecting admissions, report shows

Council chiefs warn of adult care waiting lists amid budget squeeze


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