These aren’t cuts; they are slices!


I have received a questionnaire from Durham Council, targeting maintenance costs for stair-lifts supplied by the Council, and used by disabled residents of County Durham.

We are asked if we are getting good value from the Stair-Lift Maintenance companies who maintain the afore-mentioned Stair-Lifts; and then we are asked if we would agree to a proposal to make us, as individuals, responsible for their continued maintenance and call-out repair costs. The Council ‘cost-saving’ proposal seeks to off-load the long-term maintenance and repair costs, which must be considerable, on to the backs and wallets of a group of people, who by the very nature of the service provided by these stair-lifts, are vulnerable as well as being disabled. The grants are Means-tested, and in fact most of the stair-lift users or their families are pensioners.

My wife, who is the user of the stair-lift, qualified for the installation because of her disability, but we were never advised that the financial aspects of this installation, which was provided for her through a Government-funded Disability Grant, would change so drastically. We were told, before getting the stair-lift, that the first year’s maintenance would be covered by the manufacturer’s guarantee, and after that, the repairs would be covered by Durham Council.

As an extra twist of the Council-wielded knife, we are also asked if we are Homosexuals, Irish Travellers, or possibly asylum-seekers! (The last item might be a slight exaggeration, but I would hope you get my drift!)

I have contacted the local newspapers, but have found no success in even getting a letter printed or on-line, and despair of getting any reasonable argument from the Council.

So I am asking, through these blog pages as well as other avenues, if some will support me in a campaign to get this high-and-mighty Council to change their minds, and seek another method of ‘saving’ money besides loading yet another financial burden on to the shoulders of those amongst us who can literally least afford the extra?

Mike Cunningham

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