STRAIGHT TALK: Cuts are hitting the vulnerable

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DAVID Cameron’s so-called ‘Big Society’ is supposed to see the community picking up some jobs that cash-strapped government departments and local authorities can no longer afford to do.

Public spiritedness is something to be applauded.

But the squeeze on local authorities – a cut of around 28 per cent over four years – cannot be met by well meaning people doing litter picks or splashing paint on community centre walls.

Thousands of public sector jobs will go across the country and that, in turn, will put thousands more in jeopardy in the private sector.

While it’s disturbing to see so many job losses, the real casualties are going to be the members of the public least able to look after themselves.

Real cuts in services are being made and, guess what, the most vulnerable people are already bearing the brunt.

Take the frail 96-year-old lady at Pinchbeck who doesn’t qualify for a care home.

Writing to our Mailbox pages, her daughter Janet Sharp says the lady’s heart works at 50 per cent, she has kidney disease and possible airways disease, is blind in one eye and has little sight in the other.

She lives isolated on the first floor, is unable to manage the stairs and the lift often breaks down.

There is no warden on site and the mum has only two 15-minute care visits a day.

Janet said: “She is in great danger of burning herself when she makes a drink as she has to place her hands around the cup to feel the brim.

“When she has done that and gets back to her chair she has to wait until she catches her breath to enable her to drink.”

There is a residential home where she would like her mum to go – and even the home is shocked at the local authority decision to exclude this frail old lady from residential care.

It’s utterly disgraceful that this lady – who has never asked anything of the state – should be expected to live out her years in such a way.

The government crackdown on benefit cheats is also something to be applauded.

Rooting out a cheat is one thing – forcing a disabled man to look for work when he is clearly unfit is another. Last week we featured the story of Spalding man John Williams (56), who has rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis.

He struggles to climb stairs, can barely use his hands and has a doctor’s note signing him off work.

Yet a Department of Work and Pensions medical assessment found him fit for work.

John can appeal but, as things stand, his meagre £65 a week allowance will be scrapped along with the carer’s allowance paid to the couple who look after him.

John can’t hold a paintbrush, but perhaps his first job should be painting the door of 10 Downing Street - maybe then the Eton set would see how government policy is being interpreted in the real world.