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|08 Feb 2016|
Glasgow Stronger Together
Last week, Shona Robison, the Health Secretary made an announcement of £6 million for Scottish councils as long as it was used to reduce social care charges. We understand that this money has been proposed as an anti poverty measure which will see the Income Thresholds raised in a number of councils. This is the level of basic income that people have to have before they start paying charges. The Health Secretary has suggested that 900 people will stop paying all care charges and 13,000 will pay less. A quick sum tells us that each person will be about £8.30 a week better off.
The £6 million is part of the additional £250 million that is being given to health boards to improve social care. Will it make a lot of difference? £6 million is roughly 15% of the total that councils raise in care charges so many people will still have to pay and we have already seen proposals in this year's council budgets to raise charges even more. We do agree this is a helpful first step but it would be helpful to know where it was a first step to.
However this does indicate the political pressure that has been building up on this issue thanks to the very strong Dundee and Angus based campaign for Frank's Law and the work of Scotland Against the Care Tax. This pressure is not going away so lets see what else develops when we see the parties' election manifestos in April. Read the Courier article here.
However we believe the Courier article is wrong to say that those that that pay for community alarms or meals with pay less. These are non means tested items that everyone who gets them has to pay for and are not affected by raising the charges threshold.
In our last newsletter we published a report on official government statistics published in November 2015 which showed that there had been slow progress with Direct Payments despite all the effort with the introduction of Self Directed Support. We said in the article that we couldn’t be sure until further statistics were published in 2016.
This additional information should have more on the other options included in Self Directed Support and allow everyone to make a better judgement on what has been happening- although the Scottish Government has already said that this information will be partial and will be published as “Data Under Development”. However Falkirk Council has contacted us to express their concern that these figures do not accurately reflect their work.
They have 24 people who are recorded as SDS Option 4 (mixed support options.) which if added to the 40 recorded in the Scottish Government statistics would mean that they had increased the number of Direct Payments users in 2014-15 to 64, an increase of 4 rather than a fall of 20. Other councils may be in a similar position.
The changed position for Falkirk is made clear in the chart below. The total number of Direct Payment recipients has increased in total by four in the last year. However it is also true that the total number of Direct Payment recipients in Falkirk has increased in total by only 4 since 2005. Overall hardly much of a change. In fact, if Falkirk had been following the national trend of 10% increase in Direct Payments year on year before SDS, there should have been 66 people on Direct Payments and not 64!
Source: Scottish Government Social Care Statistics 2015
Falkirk does have a very innovative Short Breaks service that really helps people make the most of respite opportunities. This is the kind of project that many other councils should develop to make the most of Individual Service Funds.
However the point of our article in December was to demonstrate that despite the large amounts of investment (Falkirk alone received £1.43 million from 2012 to 2014) and the new law and plenty of guidance, the landscape of choice for people who need support has not been radically changed. As we said in December “So far, the jury is still out on SDS and we will look forward to the publication of more detailed SDS information [later this] year.”
Another shocking story of everyday hate crime against people with learning disabilities in Scotland. Ivor Miller was waiting at a Glasgow street corner when a pack of hate filled young men and women started to taunt and punch him. A chase began which ended with Mr Miller falling out of a 2nd floor window. This dedicated hunt left Mr Miller in fear of his life and the gang waiting outside pubs he was hiding in until they could start the chase. On Tuesday, despite the judge calling the gang a "pack of animals" only one was sentenced to a custodial sentence, 3 others were give 150 hours community service and a fifth had their sentence deferred.
What led to Mr Millier sustaining serious fractures of his legs and back was an admitted catalogue of violence and abuse. However since only Mr Miller and his assailants were present in the 2nd floor flat where he had sought to hide and Mr Miller couldn't remember exactly what happened, the prosecution refused to press serious charges against his attackers. This case shows how the law lets down people with learning disabilities - where they cannot remember exactly what happened or are too scared to talk, then their attackers get away with lighter sentences.
However this case demonstrates another aspect that worries many people with learning disability. Mr Miller ran into 2 pubs to seek help and sanctuary. He got it in neither. In the 2nd pub, the Hootenanny, a barmaid threw him out of the pub into the hands of his pursuers even after he pleaded for her help. This case clearly demonstrates the need for "Keep Safe" places, a campaign being run by the I Am Me project to get more public spaces to know what to do when people with learning disabilities come into them seeking help and safety.
This chart uses Scottish Government statistics to show one consequence of government policy on social care charges. Rising Social Care Charges are linked to falling numbers of people getting the vital support that we need. There has been much talk about "demographic time bombs" and the "growing demands" of disabled people. Yet this charts show that in just a few years the number of people getting help has fallen by thousands. As one senior member of a local authority social work department put it to us - "care charges are part of demand management." However we have yet to hear anyone proclaim this policy a success. Perhaps this is something that is being kept quiet.