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The short answer to this is No. There are a range of options that local authorities can use to extend existing services or commission new or replacement services. These have been well documented by the Scottish Government in response to previous concerns over competitive tendering.
For those who like more details, the following longer answer is drawn from work carried out by the Scottish Government on the procurement and commissioning of social care services. A social care service is any service that a person receives because they have additional needs due to disability or age.
Dundee council has been forced to grant a new consultation over the future of Kemback St Day Centre. At the start of April, the council will sing a legal undertaking with campaigners to hold off a Judicial Review. Helping to change the council’s mind was the Care Inspectorate upholding a complaint about the way the original consultation had been carried out.
In both Glasgow and Dundee, families and service users have argued that their day centres provides vital support, allows people to make friends and relationships and gives a solid base from which to learn new skills. They say services should not be changed or closed without the full involvement of those that use them.
There has been a failure by Glasgow City Council to take Due Regard of its Equality Duties in relation to the decision to close 3 Day Centres for Adults with Learning Disabilities in Glasgow. Previous work by city council staff identified at least 14 reasons why day centres would be a problem for people with learning disabilities. But this information was not provided to councillors before they made the closure decision, it seems there has been a deliberate attempt to bury these negative impacts that senior council staff were aware of.
14 Reasons Why Even Glasgow Council Says It’s Wrong To Close Day Centres
1. Service users with a milder learning disability may be pushed out of all services.
2. Many community facilities do not have the resources to meet the needs of people with learning disabilities.
3. People with complex needs will have less opportunity for social interaction.
4. People with learning disabilities will face prejudice and stigma when they go out to access community-based facilities.
5. Black and Minority Ethnic service users will face low staff morale, transport, communication and language barriers including prejudice and stigma.
6. Older BME carers may not ask for help or access social work services.
7. Service users may not get the right gender of staff to give personal care.
8. Service users may lose networks of support and their friendships leaving them feeling isolated, vulnerable and discriminated against, especially women from a BME background.
9. The sexual orientation of people with learning disabilities may not be recognised.
10. Older people may be left behind in increasingly under-used day services.
11. A lack of appropriate cultural awareness training could prevent BME service users and carers from having their specific religious and cultural needs met.
12. There may be increased costs to service users and carers for subsistence and excursions, preventing them from having enough money to meet real needs.
13. If service users and carers face additional costs, they may find it difficult to manage their finances and may be forced to give up control of them.
14. New issues about safety of service users in the community with unsupervised staff may emerge.
The reasons published above were produced by Glasgow City Council staff and buried inside an Equality Impact Assessment published on 17th April 2013. This document was not presented to Councillors before they made their decision to close 3 Day Centres for People with Learning Disabilities in breach of the Council’s Equality Duties. Council staff are meant to provide information to councillors on what might happen to people from minority groups if a policy is passed. Vital information was withheld about Glasgow’s Day Centres which could have resulted in the centres being kept open.
The Learning Disability Alliance Scotland has met over the last week with service users of supported employment services over concerns they have had over recent developments within Edinburgh. This short briefing paper provides some notes on the situation and possible solutions.
In 2011 a number of projects offering supported employment to people with disabilities were transferred from Health and Social Care to Corporate Services. Responsibility for the future of these projects now rests with Economic Development Services.
A recent paper - Review of Disability Employment Support Services in Edinburgh – has proposed that Economic Development Services reorganise its third sector supported employment services from an “employment pathway” approach into a single agency delivering “pure supported employment.”