Campaigners in Northamptonshire have raised serious concerns about the impact on disabled people of the growing financial crisis enveloping their county council.Northamptonshire County Council announced this week that it will need to find up to £70 million of savings in the current financial year, from a budget of about £440 million.And last night (Wednesday) councillors were due to agree the priority areas they intend to protect from further cuts, with documents suggesting the first priority would be “keeping vulnerable people safe”, followed by “keeping people who are not classified as vulnerable, safe”, and then “complying with statutory duties where there is [no] risk of harm”.Last week, the council issued its latest section 114 notice, which warns of the risk of an unbalanced budget.The council effectively – although not technically – declared itself bankrupt when it issued a previous section 114 notice earlier this year.Another meeting of the full council next week will discuss and approve the council’s response to the latest section 114 notice, with the council’s cabinet agreeing the council’s spending priorities on 14 August.With adult social care now accounting for nearly 40 per cent of council budgets, there are growing concerns about the impact of the financial crisis on disabled people, despite its legal duty to meet all “eligible” care needs.Ian Davies, a founder member of the pioneering self-advocacy organisation Northamptonshire People First (NPF) – which was set up in 1990 and was previously called Central England People First – said he was concerned about the impact of the council’s financial crisis on disabled people in the county.He said: “It doesn’t matter where you are, in the home listening to the news on the TV or on the streets talking to local residents, wherever you go you always hear some talk of what’s going to happen and what they think might happen.“It will be a problem. There are going to be a lot of people affected by what has happened.”He said he also feared for the future of NPF, the only remaining self-advocacy group run by people with learning difficulties in the county.Davies said: “We can be very proud of ourselves to be where we are at the moment, but it is what happens after today.“My life has been built up around the whole thing. It built itself up from a day service.”He also said that bus services in the county had been cut after council funding was withdrawn, which would also have a significant impact on many disabled people in Northamptonshire.Kelly Edwards, NPF’s office coordinator, said the organisation’s service-users were now having to pay more in care charges, while others were having their support packages cut, because of the council’s financial problems.She said: “I think that’s going to get worse.”And she said that council funding for another support service had been cut, creating greater pressure on NPF.She said: “We have had a few conversations with people who live independently and rely on that service.“They don’t know how they are going to deal with their paperwork and their benefits and their finances.“I think we will find a lot more people knocking on our door wanting support.”Picture: The council’s headquarters A note from the editor:For nine years, Disability News Service has survived largely through the support of a small number of disability organisations – most of them user-led – that have subscribed to its weekly supply of news stories. That support has been incredibly valuable but is no longer enough to keep DNS financially viable. For this reason, please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please remember that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring, and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS…
JOSH Jones and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook were named top performers for June and July respectively at the latest Saints Business Networking Player of the Month event – sponsored by Oval Broking Insurance Ltd.More than 30 businesses congratulated the players as part of the session which also saw former Saints star Mike Bennett talk about his career.He told delegates that he may not have been the flashiest player but worked hard to achieve in the game and progress into teaching.The next event will be at the end of August and if you want to be involved you can contact Dave on [email protected] or call 01744 455061.
IT’S Mother’s Day this Sunday and what better way to treat her than with some great Saintly gifts!We have a great range of kit and souvenirs ideal for the big day.You can purchase Home Shirts, Pink Shirts, Scarves Hats, Gloves, Best Mum Mug, Purses, Chocolate Rugby Balls and Best Mum Cards!Cards are priced from just £1.49 and Gifts from £1.99!To find out more pop into the Saints Superstore at Langtree Park or log on here.
KEIRON Cunningham says there will be no resting on laurels when Saints face Castleford this Thursday.Fresh from the storming win over Wigan they travel to the Tigers to take on a side that is bang in form.And whilst Saints will be bolstered by returning players, Cunningham wants the full focus on be on their opponents – and not what they have achieved over recent weeks.“We look healthy heading into the game,” he said. “Some of the boys played with a virus on Friday which took a lot of out of them, but we have recovered well and should be healthy this week.“Castleford are playing really well and have won some big games recently. We will have to be very good when we go there.“They are a team in form and on the rise. They were written off at the start of the year – with the players they lost – but Daryl (Powell) is too smart a coach to let that happen. He has the right balance in his squad and Ben Roberts at full-back has been a revelation. Great coaches always get the best out of their players.“We are looking forward to it. We have picked up some good wins over the last few weeks but we can’t rest on our laurels. Our last win is a short-lived one, it has been put to bed now and we are concentrating on Thursday.“We’re in a good spot but things can turn ugly very quickly. We have to ride our fortune and pick up points on the way.“And we should be able to drip a few of our injured players back in shortly.”He continued: “The youngsters were brilliant on Friday and to be fair they have come under scrutiny this season especially after winning the Grand Final. We hit a rough patch earlier in the season with some of them too.“Greg Richards has improved out of sight and I thought he was great on Friday. Andre Savelio was sensational and almost game changing when he came on. We will keep on working with him every week to make him the complete player.“They have potential but it’s how we nurture them, bring them through, give them the correct game time and play them in the correct position. When we get some of our players back then I will be able to rest them when they need it and play them when they need it too.“We pride ourselves on our youth system and that is what we have done for a long time here. As a group of coaches we work religiously with the youth all the time and do a lot of video with them. We want them to come into the first team as close to the finished product as possible.“It’s taxing for the coaches, but that is what we do and it helps the transition a lot – and the under 19s are going well too.“There will be a couple of names on the teamsheet this week that we haven’t seen for a while – and a few headaches for me in terms of team selection. They will freshen up the squad too so we won’t be using the short turnaround as an excuse.“We will miss one session this week and we have recovered and trained well. There will be one more before the game and we will be ready to go.”In his weekly press conference Keiron also responded to rumours that he is in line to sign Theo Fages.“He’s under contract isn’t he?” he retorted, “and besides we have Luke Walsh, Travis Burns and Jon Wilkin who can fill in comfortably at half back.“Theo is a super kid who has a big future and I’m sure there is a lot of interest around him.“But I have too much below the first team to make a play for him. Rob Fairclough and Danny Richardson for instance – he is on the radar to do something in the next two years I feel.“I will bring players in because we are losing some. Perhaps two or three more, but it depends on finances and who we retain. I would imagine none of those would be top line – Lama Tasi is probably our biggest. We will also have good juniors coming in but I will need to fill some gaps.“I have said before that I would never use the marquee player money to sign an overseas player. It goes against my ethics as a home grown player and a coach.“We have an abundance of talent in the 19s and I believe home grown players should get the money.”Saints are next at Langtree Park when they take on Widnes Vikings in the Challenge Cup Quarter Final on Sunday June 28 (4pm). You can buy tickets here.