Sheffield’s record as a city which supports people with disabilities is under threat if government cuts continue, according to the Labour leader.
Jeremy Corbyn was speaking during a visit to the Disability Sheffield office yesterday.
He wanted to discuss the value of personal independence payments, PIPs, and what effect the Government’s hastily-withdrawn proposal to cut them would have had.
Mr Corbyn said Sheffield had a good record of being ‘a radical place that does support people with disabilities’.
“But all of that is under threat,” he said.
“If we consistently underfund local government in the way that this government is doing, expect local government to pay the brunt of austerity – which is a political choice, not an economical necessity – then what happens?
“Groups like Disability Sheffield lose their grant, they spend a great deal of time form-filling – in fact the director was telling me that she probably spends half her time applying for grants from charities in order to keep the organisation going, when she ought to be able to spend that time instead working for the campaign.
“I’m not saying there shouldn’t be some time spent on this, but the merry-go-round of endless applications to charities is so debilitating to organisations.”
Mr Corbyn, who was joined by Labour’s candidate in the upcoming Hillsborough and Brightside by-election Gill Furniss, heard about the good work the charity does in the city. But he also heard how that work was becoming increasingly difficult as funds were withdrawn.
He spoke to a number of disabled people, including Tess Daly, who works as a project co-ordinator for Disability Sheffield. She explained how PIPs meant she could employ four staff to support her and enable her to work and live independently in her own home and enjoy a fulfilling life.
This was all put under threat when Tess was told she was being considered for an ‘enhanced care home’ setting. This, she said, would have been like a ‘prison’.
Tess knew her rights and was able to retain her current arrangements. But, she said, many of the people she works with would have no idea what to do. Mr Corbyn said: “It really comes around to a human approach you take. Do we recognise that everybody has worth, abilities and opportunities that need to be given the opportunity to develop in their lives or do we want to cut back on it and put people in care homes or whatever else?”