Disabled people, families and social care workers hit by Bristol City Council’s budget … once again

Sign with the word budget in white text, on a red background. Scissors cut through the word ‘budget.’ 

Press Release – 9th February 2022

Bristol Reclaiming Independent Living (BRIL) are very worried that on the 15th February 2022, Bristol City Council are proposing major cuts that will affect disabled people’s lives.

We are concerned that many disabled people may not be aware of the cutbacks that are planned.

Bristol City Council did not provide details of the proposals in the consultation, held over Christmas 2021. This meant that Disabled people, families and social care workers in Bristol did not have enough time or information to respond. They could not know that cuts of more than £11 Million to the adult social care budget were planned, or how they might impact them.  These plans are in addition to major cuts and ‘efficiencies’ to Bristol’s ‘Special Educational Needs and Disabilities’ (SEND) budget [1].

We are very concerned that the Council are ignoring their duties to ensure the wellbeing of Disabled adults and children, and their duties to prevent needs increasing.

The budget proposals also say that there will not be any further consultation on the following three proposals, planned for this year:

Clawing back contingency funds from people who receive a Direct Payment for Adult Social Care:

Budget reduction £500,000

Move people over to NHS Continuing Health Care funding:

Budget reduction £ 350,000

Review individual Care and Support plans:

Budget reduction £ 1,000,000

This means that £ 1,850,000 of cuts are not open to consultation. In other words, the decision been made without asking those effected.

These are statutory services for needs that the council must meet by law. This is not expenditure which the council can just decide not to spend. The council has a statutory duty to provide social care in line with the Care Act 2014 [2]to ensure that the Wellbeing principles are met for every individual assessed as eligible for services, and to prevent people’s needs increasing.

The council is already failing to do this on the current funding levels, however they gave made statements such as ‘…there is little or no noticeable frontline impact on the services people receive.

We are also deeply worried about other ‘savings’ that will impact Disabled people with the highest support needs, including Autistic people, people with learning difficulties, people with serious mental illness and people living with dementia. These include proposals to privatise Concorde Lodge (a residential assessment unit), passing over responsibility for Section 117 mental health aftercare and cutting £1 million for Community Links.

This is despite the safeguarding concerns raised by Sir Stephen Bubb, about the failure to support people in the community and prevent crisis.

We cannot see how this shows leadership, or how it ensures the services Disabled people need to live equal lives, both now and in the future, are sustainable.

The impact of these threatened cuts is already being felt. As a member of the Bristol Reclaiming Independent Living (BRIL) put it ‘I feel terrified of the social care budget cuts. The immediate impact is to reduce my ability to function and make decisions.’ Many other members expressed similarly deep fear and concern about these cuts to the basic services needed for daily life

A statement signed by individuals and organisations is included below.

If you want to know more about the cuts and want your voice heard please contact us:

E-mail Bristol.ilag@gmail.com

Or phone 07505 414319

Statement to be made to Bristol City Council:

We the undersigned call on Bristol City Council to scrap it’s proposed budget cuts.

Bristol City Council’s proposed budget cuts include more than £11 million cuts to adult social care[3]. The council explain that the cuts are necessary to meet an overall budgetary shortfall of £19.5 million.  

In an online announcement on 3rd December the Labour council provides no opposition to the budget cuts. Instead, the cuts are described as ways of ‘working more efficiently’, ‘making best use’ of property, ‘removing unnecessary duplication, and getting best value from our suppliers’[4].  The result of these apparently laudable aims is not to cut the salaries of highly paid council leaders. Instead, despite statutory obligations under the Care Act 2014[5], the impact of the proposed budget is predominantly targeted at adult social care. Such cuts threaten the lives of Disabled people who are already struggling with reduced support services and have been the hardest hit by the pandemic.

A supposed consultation carried out in December was inaccessible to many of the city’s residents and did not include details of the budgetary proposals. Local government decision making is subject to the need for adequate consultation as defined by the Gunning principles[6]. There must be “sufficient information to give ‘intelligent consideration’. The information provided must relate to the consultation and must be available, accessible, and easily interpretable for consultees to provide an informed response”

The importance of compliance with this, together with the Public Sector Equality Duty[7] was demonstrated in the High Court ruling that the consultation for the Government’s Disability Strategy was unlawful[8].

Bristol City Council has previously failed to carry out lawful prebudget consultation in relation to its SEND budget[9].  The court ruled that rather than aiming to comply with statutory duties the council’s decision making process was:

“driven entirely from the standpoint of ensuring a balanced budget”[10]

The Council does not appear to have learned from that ruling.  There has been no significant consultation with social care users in Bristol as to the impact of the budget reductions.

Social care services have been under serious pressure for some time, with the council relying on the low pay and over work of many outsourced care providers. The council must understand the impact of further proposed budget cuts.

A member of the Disabled People’s Organisation, ‘Bristol Reclaiming Independent Living’ explained, ‘I feel terrified of the social care budget cuts. The immediate impact is to reduce my ability to function and make decisions’.  Other members expressed similarly deep fear and concern.

The council claims to wish to ‘continue to deliver high-quality services for everyone’. Yet this proposed budget does the opposite.

Bristol Labour has made a choice as to which services to cut in order to balance their budget. We reject their choice and call for them to respect the choices of disabled people.

We call for this budget to be scrapped immediately.

Provision of social care is a statutory obligation under the Care Act 2014.  Social care is already underfunded and individual disabled people are already paying the price. These services are essential for daily life and should therefore be non-negotiable.

Support for people under Section 117 of the Mental Health Act 1983 is also a statutory obligation which cannot be cut without serious impact on people in crisis.

Instead, we call for publicly accessible and meaningful consultation on alternative solutions to the council’s budget crisis.    


Bristol Defend the Asylum Seekers Campaign (BDASC)

Bristol SEND Justice

Care and Support Workers Organise (CasWO)

Disability Murals

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)

National Survivor Users Network (NSUN)

Recovery In The Bin

Shaping Our Lives

Social Workers Union

Social Work Action Network (SWAN) South West

Andrew Bolton, Disability Murals

Beth Richards

Beverly Greenwood, Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)

Dr Aurelien Mondon, University of Bath

Dr Harriet Lupton MRCGP, MRCP, Chair of Hearing Impairment Support Scheme, former GP

Dr Navin Kikabhai, University of Bristol

Dr Rebecca Yeo, University of Bristol

Prof Bridget Anderson, Professor of Migration, Mobilities and Citizenship, University of Bristol

Fleur Perry, Disabled activist

Frank Spencer, Redweather Productions Ltd

Helen Rowlands, Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)

Jack Coley

Jan Berry, Family Carer

Jeff Slade

Jo Benefield, BDASC

Joanna Booth, Journalist

Joanna Stevens

John McGowan, General Secretary, Social Workers Union

Linda Burnip, Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)

Louise Ainsworth

Mark Williams, Co-Founder BRIL

Naomi Roach

Robina Mallett (Family Carer and ex-member of the Standing Commission on Carers)

Sally Kent, Bristol SEND Justice

Sue Wyatt-Jones

Val Stansfield, BRIL

Waltraud Pospischil, BRIL,

Please note: Many other BRIL members reliant on social care funding who wish to maintain anonymity to avoid the risk of personal repercussions in their provision.

BRIL is an independent group in Bristol run by and for Disabled people, people with chronic illness, people with experience of mental illness/distress and neuro-divergent people.  

[1] https://democracy.bristol.gov.uk/mgAi.aspx?ID=25133#mgDocuments

[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/care-act-statutory-guidance/care-and-support-statutory-guidance read on 09/02/2022

[3] https://democracy.bristol.gov.uk/documents/s68755/Appendix%208%20-%20Budget%20Savings%20and%20Efficiences.pdf

[4] https://www.bristol.gov.uk/newsroom/two-weeks-left-for-bristol-s-2022-to-2023-budget-consultation

[5] https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2014/23/contents/enacted read on 04/02/2022 at 19.55

[6] https://www.local.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/The%20Gunning%20Principles.pdf read 04/02/2022 at 19.10

[7] https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/part/11/chapter/1    read 04/02/2022 at 19.39

[8] https://www.bindmans.com/uploads/files/documents/Binder_v_SoS_for_Work_and_Pensions_2022_EWHC_105_(Admin).pdf read 04/02/2022 at 19.17

[9] https://www.specialneedsjungle.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/KE-others-v-Bristol-City-Council-Approvedjudgment.pdf read 04/02/2022 at 19.22

[10] Para 129 https://www.specialneedsjungle.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/KE-others-v-Bristol-City-Council-Approvedjudgment.pdf  read 04/02/2022 at 19.29

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