Carers call for Haringey to raise council tax and save disability services

Families of vulnerable adults believe that dementia and autism services can still be saved – if council tax is increased.

Chancellor George Osborne announced on Wednesday that bosses can increase their council tax by two per cent if the cash is used to fund shortfalls in social care.

Campaigners from Save Autism Services Haringey believe the extra funds can prevent the planned closures of centres for disabled and vulnerable adults.

Birkbeck Road Day Centre in Hornsey and Always Day Centre near Muswell Hill for adults with learning disabilities are currently set to close.

The Roundway Centre for adults with complex needs is to be shut down, as well as the Grange Day Centre for people with dementia and the Haven Day Centre for adults with disabilities.

Mary Langan, mother to 22-year-old James, who has severe learning disabilities, autism and epilepsy, is determined that the fight to save the centres is not over.

“We will carry on campaigning,” she said. “There is a high level of distress and confusion and we have to support the hundreds of people who will feel the cuts in their daily lives.”

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Catherine West, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, has come out in support of plans for Haringey to raise its council tax in order to fund social care services.

“I do believe the council should increase council tax to help fund these care services, and I will be raising this matter at an urgent meeting with the council leadership over the next week,” she said.

Carers have already received letters telling them that services are soon to be closed.

Pensioner Jill Darnborough, 78, whose 51-year-old son has Down’s Syndrome and attends the Always and Birkbeck centres, has been sent a letter saying that her son’s care will be reassessed as early as January.

She does not believe that there are adequate numbers of social workers to re-assess the hundreds of people who will be losing out on vital services within such a short space of time.

“We’ve told them our fears, our worries, and it’s not made a scrap of difference,” she said.

Campaigners from Save Autism Services Haringey are also calling upon Haringey Council to take advantage of funds from NHS England rather than rushing to close the centres.

NHS England will release funds of £45m over the next three years for local councils and NHS bodies as part of their “homes not hospitals” programme to encourage vulnerable adults to live independently in the community rather than in institutions.

A Haringey Council spokesman said: “Like all local authorities, we’re awaiting the detail

of the chancellor’s spending review so that we can fully consider any implications for Haringey.

“However, raising revenue through council tax can have a significant impact on those on low incomes and doesn’t address issues such as increasing demand for services, which require a more holistic approach.

“NHS England’s ‘Homes not Hospitals’ proposals are completely aligned with the council’s plans to create more inclusive and community based provision for adults with learning disabilities and autism.”