Parents condemn savings set to hit learning disability groups in Barking and Dagenham

Parents of people affected by learning disabilities blasted councillors after they endorsed cutbacks that could see a third of staff at specialist charities axed next year.

The Labour councillors approved �42,000 of savings set to see three out of 10 staff at two merged learning disability charities, Mencap and Parents of Autistic Children Together (PACT), made redundant in March.

They also agreed to delete the post of an officer who represents parents on the Barking and Dagenham Council learning disability partnership board.

Mum-of-three Marcella Cooper cares for her 21-year-old autistic son Mitchell.

Mrs Cooper, of Dovehouse Mead, Gascoigne Estate, Barking, said: “It’s ridiculous. I don’t understand where these councillors are coming from.


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“They call it savings but I call it cuts. They can’t find money for our children who are vulnerable.

“The decision was made and we were not even consulted on it. We had no idea this was happening.

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“I expected them at least to be sensitive to us.”

Doreen Heley, 65, looks after her 46-year-old daughter Jackie, who has a learning disability.

Mrs Heley, of Review Road, Dagenham, said: “We’re disappointed. The worker tries to get better things for the disabled.

“Perhaps (when the post goes) they won’t have someone to speak for them.”

Barking and Dagenham Mencap merged with PACT in Woodward Road, Dagenham, last year.

The charities’ joint chief executive, Chris Gillbanks, said: “I’m very disappointed they are not looking at the long-term picture.

“I really feel the local authority has been disproportionate in the cuts they have made to us in comparison to other organisations.”

Councillors sitting on the health and adult services select committee approved the savings at Barking Town Hall on November 14.

Cllr Maureen Worby said the �28,000 post of administrator on the partnership board was to be deleted but insisted the work of the board would be picked up.

The select committee added that the services which had been provided through the �42,000 advocacy grants would continue to be delivered in different ways.

Other savings approved on November 14 may affect services for various clients including the homeless, as well as people with mental health and substance misuse problems.

The committee stressed they are “recommended savings” with a final decision to be made by Barking and Dagenham councillors in February 2013.

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