Fresh from the concerns earlier this year over the restriction of new applications to the Independent Living Fund to those in work, it now seems the whole future of the fund is in doubt.
As part of the review of governmental spending, the question of whether the fund should remain with the DWP. At first sight this makes sense as the ILF is a legacy fund which was set up as part of an ad hoc development of community care. However one of the suggested solutions is a nightmare!
First the sufficient money will be transferred to local authorities to administer on the basis of existing applicants
Second the money will be ring fenced for 4-5 years
Third as existing applicants surrender their claims then the money will be retained by the government gradually reducing the value of the scheme
Fourth at the end of the ring fencing period then the fund will cease and local authorities will be expected to make alternative provision.
Huge financial pressures will be placed on local authorities - individuals will lose an important element of control over their lives - services will be reduced and many vulnerable people will lose out. Over a third of ILF applicants have a severe learning disability. About £61 million will be stolen from vulnderable adults in Scotland and there will be untold consequences on their services and support structures.
We urge you now to write to David Cameron at 10 Downing Street or Iain Duncan Smith at the Department of Work & Pensions. Download a draft letter here
The review has outlined the financial challenges facing the Scottish Government over the next few years. Or at least it tried to but from the start it was hampered by a lack of clear figures. No one knows yet what the scale of the cuts will be. There is some indication that the review will aim to reduce costs by 3.3% per year in real terms. But the complexity of the Barnett formula means that no one really understands yet what Scotland's grant next year will be. For example, the review points out that as the Health Service is likely to be protected in England, then that might mean that slightly more money will come into Scotland than expected.
The second thing to point out is that the Review is only a review - it has no legal status - it is done hurriedly - it was limited in its scope. Ministers are both free and able to reject its contents altogether. The review's limitation are important - it was not allowed to consider the implications of raising taxes to raise further money - although at COSLA's request it appears to have suggested that it would be a good idea to raise the Council Tax for the next few years. The decisions will be in the hands of the politicians and next year is Scottish election year
Recently the Scottish Government has consulted over the national eligibility for care framework. This is because of emerging problems all over Scotland. Many people with learning disabilities and their carers are finding that this criteria framework is being used to deny them services or to threaten to remove access to existing services.
The problem is that the framework was established for and is still mainly used to ration access to care for older people. As a result it is aimed at stopping people losing independence as they become frailer. For people with learning disabilities who look at becoming more independent this simply does not fit.
What does it mean and how does it affect people with learning disabilities.
Self Directed Support is the Scottish Government’s preferred term for a range of support initiatives that will allow individuals to take more control of their own lives through having more say over the purchasing decision of their support packages.
Self Directed Support is a choice of words that tries to focus on the individual and the question of how they manage their own support. Some people suggest that other terms such as Direct Payments focus on the financial mechanism. In Control is seen, by others, as being one particular way of providing individual budgets, which might not always be suitable.
Government policy in this area appears to be about a flexible response to fit local circumstances. Rather than suggest a single response by local authorities, it aims to support cooperative working from a number of agencies. There is a degree of logic in this. Local authority social work departments are a major contributor in support packages but by no means the only one. Contributions from other local authority departments , health boards and other public bodies back up this contribution. Individuals themselves are able to make contributions towards their support through Independent Living Fund awards and their own income.
LOCAL AUTHORITY OUTCOMES
What is the issue : The new national agreement on local authority finance give considerable leeway to local authorities prioritise development in their own areas. New Outcome Agreements are weak on issues to do with people with learning disabilities. There is a specific issue to do with increasing respite care in the agreement but the national outcomes make no reference to vulnerable adults or children never mind people with learning disabilities.
What is the story: The new arrangement between local authorities and the Scottish Government gives them much more freedom over how they spend their money. In order to stop wasting money local authorities don’t have to write so many reports. Instead a national set of outcomes have been agreed and local areas can work out how they can help meet these.