Grantham Journal letter: Some groups still have no voice
This country has a proud reputation for tackling discrimination and inequality.
However, there is one group of people, those with learning disabilities, who still suffer disgraceful discrimination, including from our government and services.
One of the key reasons for this is that they do not have a voice to be heard or put their case, and so called consultation exercises at best only pay lip service to their needs, or totally ignore them.
I read with interest in last week’s journal that Lincolnshire County Council, through Addaction, are to expand their services for people with alcohol and drug addictions, and substance misuse. This letter is not a complaint about this decision, although some may find it distasteful, but to highlight the disgraceful discrimination against vulnerable adults with learning disabilities by our council.
You see, Addaction day centres are free for people with alcohol and drug addictions, and substance misusers to attend whereas vulnerable adults with learning disabilities, such as my son, are charged to attend their day centres. Back in 2014 the Addaction service was costing Lincolnshire County Council (us as taxpayers) over £2.6m. How much now for the expanded services?
I have met with both our MP and local councillor on my son’s behalf, who both agreed that it is discrimination and sent letters to support ceasing this charge, but Lincolnshire County Council refused to reconsider.
Having exhausted all local channels I appealed to the Local Government Ombudsman who, quite incredibly determined, that as long as all vulnerable adults with learning disabilities are charged and all people with alcohol and drug addictions, and substance misuse are not charged, then this is not discrimination. I further tried to pursue this through a legal challenge, and whilst I was informed that there is a case, I could not get legal aid and was advised that the cost would be considerable.
I would normally put my name and street for publication of letters to the Journal but I have withheld on this occasion due to the sensitivities of the issue. Perhaps the Journal would provide a conduit for contacts from anyone who cares for someone in a similar situation or can offer any help, or from those appalled by this shocking discrimination who want to add their support.
Name and address supplied