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Swedes protest cutbacks in personal assistance budget

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Swedes protest cutbacks in personal assistance budget
Demonstrations were held in 25 towns and cities across Sweden on Saturday. Photo: Janerik Hansson / TT
18:31 CET+01:00
Thousands of people staged demonstrations across Sweden on Saturday to protest recent cutbacks in the budget funding personal assistance for people with disabilities.

The protests were held in at least 25 towns and cities across the country. In Stockholm alone, at least 1,000 people braved the cold and turned up to demonstrate, said Maria Persdotter, chairwoman of the Swedish National Association for Disabled Children and Young People which helped to organise the rallies.

“We've had an incredible atmosphere and people are very encouraged now,” she was quoted as telling Swedish news agency TT.

One of the main points of conflict is a recent government decision to slash the costs when it comes to personal assistance for people with disabilities.

Swedish broadcaster SVT estimates that the annual personal assistance costs have almost doubled in the past 10 years - from around one million kronor (€100,000) to nearly two million kronor per person. In the past year, the government has therefore tried to stem these costs.

Persdotter said that one possible reason for the cost increase is that people didn't actually use the assistance enough before. “It [the higher cost] reflects people's needs more appropriately now.”

The Swedish “LSS” law, which came into force in 1994, was put into place to guarantee that people with disabilities can have the same quality of life as those who don't have such disabilities. But Persdotter said the cutbacks is eating away at the very essence of that law.

“If things get out of hand in the way an authority handles things, the politicians have a responsibility to fix it,” she said.

“The reform is so eroded now, that there isn't much left. It can't go on like this,” Persdotter said.

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