STRANGFORD MP Jim, speaking at Westminster recently in a health debate, has questioned the rights of foreign nationals to run up unpaid debts for health care across the UK on the National Health Service while hardships are being encountered across the country by ordinary citizens.
As the Welfare Reform Bill reaches its final stages in the Commons, many MP’s are calling for significant changes to the radical proposals put forward by the Tory-Liberal coalition.
Mr Shannon said: “There are people all over the country who will be left with no independence and a greater reliance on the health care system if these reforms are to go ahead. The Baronnes Tanni Grey-Thompson inquiry has warned in the report that up to 230,000 severely disabled people who do not have another adult to assist them will get between £28 and £58 less in support every week.
“The inquiry also reveals that 100,000 disabled children stand to lose up to £28 a week, while 116,000 disabled people who work risk losing up to £40 per week from payments towards additional costs of being disabled.
“There is something drastically wrong with these findings. The reforms mustn’t have any knock-on effect to carers, who are already feeling the pressure. DLA helps disabled people to manage some of their own care needs; without this support, they could increasingly rely on family members. According to the Hardest Hit survey, three in 10 disabled people stated that without DLA their carer would not be able to work. Carers UK estimates that 10,000 people could lose carer’s allowance as a result of cuts to DLA. “
Mr Shannon added that family carers provide an unmatched service in the United Kingdom which saves the government millions of pounds each year and it is essential that they are allowed to carry on doing this by ensuring that they have the support that they need to keep doing this.
He said: “It is clear that this government must address the Care in the Home needs – too many people are living in dirty homes and not getting fed enough and there is only so much that families can do and I believe that whilst we are trying to save money – Care in the Community cannot bear the weight of it.
“Private Sector Care companies have lost the brunt of their funding due to cuts and that will mean more elderly living in unfit conditions as too much is required of their carers that they cannot possibly provide without support.
“The government must understand that if they put a little into respite and help for carers it would mean they could continue on caring rather than giving up and putting their loved one into state sponsored homes. Saving a penny now will soon mean spending thousands later and I hope the Government realizes this before it is too late. These Welfare Reforms may push our disabled people and their families past the point of no return and this must be addressed.
“We have at present a large amount of young families and single parent families, who find it very difficult to cope. It is estimated that to place a child in care cost £83,950 and yet this could have been stopped in its track if the parent had been given the essential care and support at the start. Homestart, a charity that has done fantastic work in the community but is becoming constrained by funding cuts. has said that to support a child for a year through their organisation only costs £422. There is some difference not only to the monetary cost but also to the emotional well-being of the child who can feel the difference made in the home.
“It would seem to me that there is a degree here of being penny wise pound foolish… we are saving money in the short term but in the long-term there will be no saving – and worse – in the long-term there will be families pulled apart, disabled people isolated and a community that is not functioning as it can and all because the big picture was not looked at.”
Mr Shannon closed his comments at Westminster by saying that the government needed to rethink this piece of welfare reform and consider how it will impact on individual lives. He said the government needs to put in place an efficiency package that saves money but not at the expense of a decent quality of life.