2015 Learning Disability Service Cuts Taking Place All Over Scotland

This map looks at each council in Scotland and identifies what cuts are being made this year to services for people with learning disabilities.

It gives a quick visual expression of where the cuts are taking place.  The Red icons mean cuts – the yellow icons mean no cuts this year.

It should be stressed that at no point did we find people with learning disabilities being singled out for attention.  It is, of course, hard to be sure of the exact balance to cuts but it did seem that all services from schools to office administration took their share of cuts.  This was true in all areas no matter what the size of the overall cuts being proposed.

This paper should be seen as less a guide to action but more of an indicator of where people might want more information.

Almost all councils had a funding problem this year.  Part of this seems to be due to restricted funding, often explained by councils as being linked to the Council Tax freeze.  But interestingly lots of councils also talked about “demand pressures.”  This was often down to the changing population with more people living longer often with poorer health.  Councils felt they had to put away more money to deal with this and then this led to cuts in other areas to manage this.

For example, Renfrewshire Council estimated they would spend £2.9 million on meeting extra demand for social care services.  This was to be funded by reducing spending elsewhere.  This means that even while some councils are making cuts in one area of learning disability services, they will be spending more in other areas.

Some of what we have put down as “cuts” might be understood as “modernisation” or “efficiency savings.”  Councils use these term when they mean they will no longer do things in the old ways but try and do things in new ways.  Often they would say these things have no real effect on people.  If you do things differently but people lives are not changed, then is it really a problem?

Some councils have looked at ways of managing that growth in demand.  Some councils have changed their eligibility criteria to make it harder for people not in substantial or critical need to get services.  Others are using call centres to make it easier to screen people at the first point of contact.  This is likely to reduce the level of demand for a range of services.

While councils have included this additional “demand pressure” element in their budget as a way of managing future spending, it will be interesting to see if this pressure means councils spend all the money they have put aside.


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