Disabled people have staged a protest against a move they fear could leave them confined to care homes against their will.

They were among dozens of protestors who brandished signs saying “disabled people have a right to live independently” at a meeting of Barnet’s adults and safeguarding committee on Wednesday (June 5).

It came during a debate on the council’s decision to stop offering community-based care “by default” for disabled people – a move that is expected to save £424,000 in 2019-20.

The decision has sparked fears it could turn the clock back by decades to a time when disabled people with high support needs were placed in out-of-town institutions instead of being looked after in their communities.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Cllr Reema Patel, Labour lead on adults and safeguarding, called for the decision to be scrapped.

She warned the move could contravene the rights of disabled people as set out by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Cllr Patel said: “I am concerned, in particular, that people with disabilities might be placed out of the borough.

“(Disabled people’s charity) Inclusion Barnet has raised real concerns about this, as has Barnet Alliance for Public Services and many other residents.

“This member’s item effectively asks for the committee to reverse this decision and abandon the plans to make these cuts.”

Cllr Patel also called for an update on the changes, including figures on how many people had been placed into residential care without being given the option to remain in the community by default.

But she was told the council’s rules would not allow committee members to vote on overturning the decision based on her current members item.

Dawn Wakeling, the council’s strategic director of adults, communities and health, said: “Reversing a decision that has been made by this committee and ratified at full council is not an appropriate request for an officer to make.

“I would suggest what officers can give you is information about the proposal – how it has been implemented, what impact it has had and how many people have been affected.

“We can give you further information about how many people are supported in the community and how many are supported in residential care, so you can see the scale of it.

“Then I would suggest if members of the committee wished to change the decision, it would be for members of the committee to put forward motions for the committee to vote on.”

Chairman of the committee Cllr Sachin Rajput defended the council’s decision-making.

He said: “As far as this administration is concerned, we would always look at the rights of individuals first, we would consider care plans and people would be assessed for whatever their eligible needs are.

“This is a policy to meet the needs of individuals in the most favourable way possible.”

The committee was allowed a say on whether to support Cllr Patel’s request for an update on the changes to be brought back to the committee and voted unanimously in favour of the proposal

Councillors could be asked to overturn the decision after reviewing the evidence contained in the update at the next committee meeting on September 19.