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Two weeks ago Mike Penning announced the UK government’s decision to go ahead with the closure of the Independent Living Fund from June 2015 for users in England and Wales. Existing funding would be transferred to local authorities and users would become dependent on local authorities assessment of their need and a subsequent allocation of resources.
The situation in Scotland is quite DIFFERENT. The funding for existing ILF user will be transferred to the Scottish Government with effect from June 2015 and they have made a COMMITMENT to honour all existing awards for as long as funds continue to be transferred to them. This means that existing ILF users will be protected in the short term. Future decisions will depend on financial settlements in the long term and the current Scottish Government is clear that they intend to offer this protection for as long as possible.
No public announcement has been made by the Scottish Government to this effect as they have not yet been formally told by the DWP of the decision to close the ILF. This formal notice will include details of the proposed financial assessment and having it is essential to making sure that the Scottish Government can carry out their plans. Some scrutiny of this notice will be needed because the change of dates for the closure of the fund will alter the details of the financial assessment. A formal announcement will follow in due course. The hope is this will be no longer than 2 weeks from today.
Meanwhile the previous plans remain ready to go. The consultation that was carried out last year on the future management of the ILF resources in Scotland is still live and once the financial information has been received then the Minister will consider the analysis of the consultation and the financial information and decide how to go forward. We can hope to see the consultation responses and the analysis of these first published on the Scottish Government website and hopefully shortly after the Scottish Government’s plans for using any spare ILF money as it becomes available.
We would reiterate that for the short term ILF users in Scotland will have their existing support packages maintained.
In a new report, LDAS have uncovered the hidden effects of social care cuts in Scotland. Over 20,000 older people, people with learning disabilities and others are no longer getting vital social support since the start of the 2007 economic recession. Easy Read Version
By examining Government statistics and comparing them to the growth in the elderly population we have found that many people who might previously been eligible for social care services are no longer getting help.
In the last 6 years the numbers getting home care in Scotland have fallen by 11,000 and the numbers in residential care have fallen by 2,000. But at the same time the number of people over 65 has continued to grow. If the same proportion of people were still getting help in 2013 as were in 2007 then a total of 20,000 more people would be getting care at home or residential care.
LDAS has long argued that the cuts in public spending would not focus on large scale closure of services such as that proposed by Quarriers last month at Seafield School in Ayrshire but would be about smaller changes in the individual’s packages of care. These new numbers back this up.
The biggest fall has been in people who would previously have got 4 or less hours of support a week. The Scottish Campaign For A Fair Society carried out a Freedom of Information request into changes in Eligibility Criteria. These are rules which determines who gets support and who doesn’t. We have analysed the replies and it appears that most councils in Scotland have now adopted the new 2009 national criteria.
Hate Crime—Still A Problem
LDAS is taking part in a working group along with Police Scotland a number of other voluntary organisations and users groups that looks at Hate Crime against people with learning disabilities.
Some useful initiatives include the Safe Places system which signs up local shops to provide a place for people being bullied to go and wait safely till the threat has passed.
Others include new training and response information for Police Officers on the beat designed by Cornerstone.
3rd party reporting is another initiative that has been going for some time. While Police Scotland have taken big steps to become more approachable, some people are still wary about going to them directly. They worry that they might not be able to explain themselves and may get into trouble over other matters. Voluntary organisations and other services offer help to people from different minority groups to tell their story to a sympathetic ear and then to inform the police in a safe and secure way.
The Learning Disability Alliance Scotland has discovered new evidence that charges for social care are still rising at five times the rate of inflation. New figures published by the Scottish Government earlier this week show that councils now generate almost £50 million from people living on state benefits to subsidise their statutory duties.
While the amount collected in charges has reduced in homecare, this has been more than compensated by the rise in Direct Payments and reflects a more general move of people from getting homecare organised by the council to arranging for themselves directly.
This 10% increase over the last financial year shows an accelerating increase in the amount councils take from people with disabilities from a 4% increase in 2011 and a 7% increase in 2012.
|All Scotland - Income from charging Social Work Clients - all figures £000s|
|Year ending||2010||2011||2012||2013||Increase over
the last year
|TOTAL INCOME FROM CHARGES TO SERVICE USERS||40322||42571||46153||51610||10.6%|
At a time when disabled people are being hit by cuts in services and changes to welfare benefits, its is hard to see how councils justify this. We think this will continue to drive more and more people out of the care system who can arrange care for themselves at cheaper rates.
Forth Valley Stronger Together group was really worried earlier this year when they found out that Stirling Council was planning more increases in its charging for social care services. Councillors were being told that they should raise the Care Tax rate from 75% to 100%. Already the tax rate in the area was one of the highest in the country but the new proposals would leave people in poverty.
The group talked about the matter and then wrote to the council saying this was in an increase of over 30% of the level of charges that people would have while their income would only go up by 2%. It simply wasn't fair.
The councillors listened and Stirling Council rejected plans to raise the charges by this level. Overall charges may still be going up in Scotland but at least we have had a bit of sense from Stirling.