By Debbie le Quesne

Help for blind now down 40 per cent

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You know I was going on about the negative effects of cuts to social care budgets, a colleague has just pointed me to a BBC website post which concerns me deeply.

The much-lauded Royal National Institute of Blind People has announced that the number of blind people getting help from councils has dropped by over 40 per cent in England in six years

Their analysis found just under 32,000 got support last year – down from nearly 56,000 in 2005-6. Wow!

Much of my focus has been the struggle now faced to get funding for elderly care.

But the RNIB research shows the extent of cuts elsewhere in the care sector.

Chief executive Lesley-Anne Alexander said in the Beeb report: “Not only does sight loss have a massive emotional impact, but it also means having to re-learn almost every aspect of your life.

“Being left alone to cope with sight loss is wholly unacceptable. No matter how tight the budgets of government are, this is essential support which must be provided. The government needs to act now.”

Predictably and understandably a spokesman for the Local Government Association said: “Councils would love to be able to provide the same level of support they did in 2005 but a 43 per cent cut to local government funding means that simply is not possible.”

How do councils now priortise? A tightening of eligibility criteria is unavoidable but there is growing alarm that sustainability of such crucial services is just not possible.

Pooled health budgets, alleged additional funding for social care – Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb says an extra £100m in 2013/14, and £200m in 2014/15 is on the cards – joined up care provision and creative local authority budgeting, all help.

Bust how much? My members are at the sharp end of care delivery and things for them are certainly not getting easier.

Perhaps all the gloom this week is coming on a Monday . . .

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