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The Independent Living Fund (ILF) is to close from 30 June 2015, with local authorities taking responsibility for delivering support through the mainstream adult social care system.
Minister for disabled people, Mike Penning, confirmed the new arrangements for the fund, which helps disabled people to live independent lives. The 18,000 current users of the fund in England will now transfer from ILF to the social care system.
Mr Penning said: ‘Our understanding of disabled people has changed over the past 20 years, and along with it there have been significant developments in how we provide social care to disabled people so they can live independent lives.
‘We continue to spend £50bn a year on disabled people and the services provided to them, and as part of the government’s long-term economic plan, we want to make sure that disabled people are given the support that allows them to fulfil their potential.’
He said the Department for Work and Pensions had addressed the Appeal Court’s concerns through a new equalities analysis adding that opportunities for disabled people were now being provided through social care services.
It all sounds a bit dodgy to us!
The government in Scotland has yet to announce how ILF users in their areas will be supported but has indicated that they intend to honour existing committments to ILF users for as long as funds are provided.
In our last newsletter, we highlighted the use of Section 13ZA, part of the Social Work Scotland Act which was designed to allow councils to help people without capacity to leave hospital and settle in new homes in the community. We were worried about the use of this legislation to unfairly move people with learning disabilities from their own home in the community into residential care (see box).
We asked councils across Scotland how often they used Section 13ZA to move people.
Only 3 of the smallest councils in Scotland and 2 medium sized ones (South Ayrshire and Argyll & Bute) were able to give us some figures. Argyll & Bute and Clacks both said they had used the rule to move people with learning disabilities from their own homes. The other councils didn’t keep information which showed the client group of people affected.
The other councils said that they wouldn’t tell us because they didn’t keep the information in an easily accessible way. Most said it was recorded on paper files only and it would take too much time to get to it. A few didn’t record the use of 13ZA at all!
“Local authorities may want to review their local protocols and, in addition, may need to adapt their case record data collection programmes in order to account for cases where the local authority has used its power under section 13ZA of the 1968 Act to provide services”.
Possibly local councils haven’t read this guidance. Or possibly don’t realise the importance of making sure that people who are moved without their consent need full and proper protection.
Hate Crime—Still A Problem
LDAS is taking part in a working group along with Police Scotland a number of other voluntary organisations and users groups that looks at Hate Crime against people with learning disabilities.
Some useful initiatives include the Safe Places system which signs up local shops to provide a place for people being bullied to go and wait safely till the threat has passed.
Others include new training and response information for Police Officers on the beat designed by Cornerstone.
3rd party reporting is another initiative that has been going for some time. While Police Scotland have taken big steps to become more approachable, some people are still wary about going to them directly. They worry that they might not be able to explain themselves and may get into trouble over other matters. Voluntary organisations and other services offer help to people from different minority groups to tell their story to a sympathetic ear and then to inform the police in a safe and secure way.
The Learning Disability Alliance Scotland has discovered new evidence that charges for social care are still rising at five times the rate of inflation. New figures published by the Scottish Government earlier this week show that councils now generate almost £50 million from people living on state benefits to subsidise their statutory duties.
While the amount collected in charges has reduced in homecare, this has been more than compensated by the rise in Direct Payments and reflects a more general move of people from getting homecare organised by the council to arranging for themselves directly.
This 10% increase over the last financial year shows an accelerating increase in the amount councils take from people with disabilities from a 4% increase in 2011 and a 7% increase in 2012.
|All Scotland - Income from charging Social Work Clients - all figures £000s|
|Year ending||2010||2011||2012||2013||Increase over
the last year
|TOTAL INCOME FROM CHARGES TO SERVICE USERS||40322||42571||46153||51610||10.6%|
At a time when disabled people are being hit by cuts in services and changes to welfare benefits, its is hard to see how councils justify this. We think this will continue to drive more and more people out of the care system who can arrange care for themselves at cheaper rates.
Forth Valley Stronger Together group was really worried earlier this year when they found out that Stirling Council was planning more increases in its charging for social care services. Councillors were being told that they should raise the Care Tax rate from 75% to 100%. Already the tax rate in the area was one of the highest in the country but the new proposals would leave people in poverty.
The group talked about the matter and then wrote to the council saying this was in an increase of over 30% of the level of charges that people would have while their income would only go up by 2%. It simply wasn't fair.
The councillors listened and Stirling Council rejected plans to raise the charges by this level. Overall charges may still be going up in Scotland but at least we have had a bit of sense from Stirling.