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‘This is not okay’ - Dismay for campaigners as council refuses disability allowance U-turn

PUBLISHED: 16:51 17 February 2020 | UPDATED: 09:22 19 February 2020

George Pegg protesting outside Norfolk County Council. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

George Pegg protesting outside Norfolk County Council. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Archant

Disability rights campaigners have spoken of their despair after councillors passed up several opportunities to restore funding to some of the region’s most vulnerable people.

Harry protesting outside Norfolk County Council. Picture: Victoria PertusaHarry protesting outside Norfolk County Council. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Last year, Norfolk County Council agreed changes to the minimum income guarantee (MIG), which left disabled families having to pay more for care.

Protesters had hoped this decision would be reversed on Monday as the county council set its budget for the coming year and beyond.

Opposition councillors from both the Labour and Liberal Democrats made proposals that would have seen the MIG restored, but these were all voted down by members of the controlling Conservative group.

Campaigners filled the public gallery with banners and there was outcry as the votes were taken.

Dozens of people turned up to the DNNG protest at Norfolk County Council to protest against benefit cuts for disabled people. Picture: Victoria PertusaDozens of people turned up to the DNNG protest at Norfolk County Council to protest against benefit cuts for disabled people. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Among the campaigners were Debbie, Barry and George Pegg, of North Walsham, a family who rely on the disability allowance.

George, 21, lives with a form of autism and relies on the allowance to attend a support group, which he said is a real lifeline for him.

He said: "This is not okay. I'm so disappointed. My support group is so important to my independence and where I go to make friends and socialise."

Mrs Pegg, his mother, added: "To sit there and watch as the councillors voted to continue taking money away from the most vulnerable people in the county was so tough to take."

Dozens of people turned up to the DNNG protest at Norfolk County Council to protest against benefit cuts for disabled people. Picture: Victoria PertusaDozens of people turned up to the DNNG protest at Norfolk County Council to protest against benefit cuts for disabled people. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Andrew Proctor, leader of the council, said after the meeting: "Hearing about people struggling is not something we enjoy but it has come as a result of the financial position of the council.

"We have a duty to provide for everybody and I'm not saying that these people should not be beneficiaries of that but we do have financial restrictions."

Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group, said he was "disappointed, but not surprised" by the outcome of the meeting.

He said: "I think it is disappointing that the Conservative group is not prepared to work with other political groups to look for solutions and run down debate.
"My message to the campaigners would be that your case is right, keep fighting and we are with you all the way."

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