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|05 May 2017|
Forth Valley Stronger Together
Many councils such as Glasgow and Edinburgh have announced plans to cut their budgets in the coming financial year. Others such as North Ayrshire and Aberdeenshire are promising to increase the amount they take in Care Charges again!
But in Falkirk, campaigners have managed to get the council to think again about one particular cut. Falkirk Equal People , one of the members of LDAS, meets weekly in Grangemouth to encourage members to become more independent and act as advocates for social justice and equal opportunities.
The local council supports the group with a free let all year round, and 13 hours of support work. However, budget proposals suggested this help would end and the group might have to stop operating altogether.
A large public meeting was held in Grangemouth where it was said “this would be an example of an extremely short-sighted cut. If this group goes then you are going to see more people demanding support from health services and social services and this will end up costing a lot more money.”
Hundreds of signatures were collected on a petition. A demonstration was planned outside the Council’s budget meeting along with a deputation inside. However a few days before the council met, the group were told that plans for any cuts this year were being withdrawn.
While none of the members were resting as the cuts might re-emerge next year, this is a result the group can be proud of.
After years of campaigning the Kingspark families have won a commitment from the Scottish Government that the new guidance, 'Included, Engaged and Involved” will specifically refer to children and young people with complex additional support needs.
It will make clear that children and young people with disabilities have additional legal protection provided by equality legislation
There will be the inclusion of a section on the promotion of Positive Behaviour and the development of a whole school ethos. This would help in itself to minimise the use of restraint by helping to focus on the needs of each individual child.
The guidance might be also be renamed so that it did not primarily focus on exclusion but more on positive behaviour. This will help steer teaching and support staff in the right direction.
Beth Morrison, the lead signatory of petition said “It has been a long fight and I’m absolutely delighted the campaign has been successful. I’ve been told a draft of the guidelines will be drawn up next month and I’ll have the chance to have a look at it before things are made final.”
Earlier this year, Edinburgh Council announced they were going to cut £15 million from the social work budget including nearly £3 million for support packages for people with learning disabilities and other support needs. The Self Directed Support system which had been running for just over 12 months was to be overhauled, budgets were to be cut by 20% and a streamlined review process was to find ways to cut back support packages, one by one. New teams of social workers charged with leading the reviews were organised. It was to be a new approach. And unsurprisingly first reports were worrying with one of the new social workers putting it, “After all, do you know how much it costs to keep people with learning disabilities.”
Fortunately wiser heads have prevailed. Long standing members of the council have been able to step in and counsel for a more measured approach to reviews. People who know the individuals well are now leading the reviews. Many of the early reviews which proposed big cuts in services have not been progressed. The Finance and Resources Committee acknowledges that it is likely that the savings target will not be met. Many families and people with learning disabilities have breathed a big sigh of relief.
But its not over yet and the proposals to cut are likely to be revisited again. There are also a number of other efforts under way which will affect people with learning disabilities adversely.
A new assisted transport policy means that people with high rate DLA mobility are now expected to make their own way to support services (transport will not be supplied).
Day services will be reviewed throughout Edinburgh with the aim of closing a number of local authority run centres and the remainder now specialising in supporting those with complex needs.
A maximum budget of £26,070 is set for those with the most complex needs – a lot less for many others.
Changes in the assessment process will limit help to only those carers who provide “substantial support on a regular basis.”
It is hard to see how we will ever see a “Fairer Scotland” when this scale of local authority attacks on the vital social care that people with learning disabilities need is under way.
Supreme Court overturns key Court of Appeal decision on ordinary residence
The Supreme Court has rejected a Court of Appeal ruling on who has financial responsibility for the care of an adult with physical and learning disabilities, instead ruling that the local authority initially responsible for meeting his needs as a child should be responsible for his care after the age of 18.
The ruling was made despite the subject, PH, having been placed in foster care outside the authority’s area from the age of five, having lived out-county all of his adult life and his natural parents having also moved away from the local authority area of his birth.
PH has physical and learning disabilities and there is no dispute that he is entitled to receive care costing around £80,000 per annum. He was born in Wiltshire in 1986, but was placed by Wiltshire County Council with foster parents in the South Gloucestershire Council area from 1991. Since he was 17, PH has lived in two care homes in Somerset. His natural parents moved to Cornwall from Wiltshire after his foster placement was made and PH regularly visited them there for holidays.
The dispute over who should pay for his care was initially referred by the councils concerned – Cornwall, Wiltshire, Somerset and South Gloucestershire - to the Health Secretary to determine “the proper approach to the determination of a person's 'ordinary residence' within the meaning, and for the purposes, of Part III of the National Assistance Act 1948, where that person lacks capacity to decide where to live.”
Following reports in England that the NHS is to stop 'over-medicating' people with learning disabilities, questions are being raised if the same thing is happening in Scotland.
NHS England has pledged to take urgent action after reports highlighted that as many as 1 in 6 people are being ‘over-medicated’ by healthcare professionals, and that up to 35,000 adults with a learning disability are being prescribed an antipsychotic, an antidepressant or both without appropriate clinical justification. That would imply that possibly about 3,000 people with learning disabilities might be affected if a similar system was in place here.
But so far we cannot find out because proper records of the same sort that exist in England do not yet exist in Scotland.