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Disabled survey reveals worries of Richmond residents
Disabled people in Richmond believe they have been hit hard by austerity measures, according to recent survey results.
Eighty people with disabilities, who all rely on benefits, were quizzed as part of the borough-wide survey carried out by Fairness for All (FFA).
Cutbacks to income and services have led to some unwanted adjustments to disabled people's lives, the survey found.
One respondent said they had stay in bed on days they could not afford to pay for a carer.
Others said they did not go out as much, had cut back on heating and could no longer buy items to help manage their condition.
Alex Brining, operations manager at Richmond Aid, said: "Our money advice project and benefits service work with many disabled people every week who are struggling to meet the bills and afford the additional expenses of living and working in their communities with an impairment.
"Austerity and national policies have hit hard - for example, disabled people are waiting on average six months to claim the replacement benefit for Disability Living Allowance called Personal Independence Payments.
"This report can be used so that our MPs and decision makers know about these issues."
The survey also claimed disabled people were made to feel unwelcome in Richmond.
An FFA spokesman said: "Regular abuse of blue badge parking, poor access and indifferent public transport were common complaints but survey respondents also reported a lack of understanding mostly by the general public.
"Being ignored by shop assistants, bank staff and cabbies were also mentioned but perhaps most worrying was that one in four respondents said that in the past year they had been subjected to people being aggressive, hostile or calling them hurtful names."
Councillor Liz Jaeger, deputy leader of Richmond's Liberal Democrats, described the results as a "reality check" for the Conservative administration.
She said: "Sadly the Liberal Democrats are not in a position after the election to reverse the local cuts, some £800,000pa, to disabled people's benefits, that were introduced by the Conservative administration in 2011.
"Going forward, it is so important that the Conservatives do not impose further local cuts or tighten eligibility criteria yet more.
"Already we have hundreds of people locally getting no help, who would have been helped before 2011 - I hope the relevant Conservative politicians are taking due note of this survey."
Deputy leader of Richmond Council, Geoffrey Samuel, hit out at Coun Jaeger's claims the Tories had made cuts to disability benefits.
He said: "That is not the case at all, this is a myth they have perpetuated.
"What did happen was an increase in some charges for support as we found there were some people who were obviously extremely well off getting support.
"I think that by reducing it there were about 50 people who got reduced support so to say there were cuts is totally wrong.
"We are happy to the current situation but no one knows how a newly-elected government is going to change things."
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