As a result it is not surprising that the council and Deloitte is trying to keep the report confidential. The prospect of legal challenges succeeding on the back of this legal evidence is immense.
Ian Hood, Coordinator of the Learning Disability Alliance Scotland said, “Edinburgh Council now needs to learn that it cannot treat people with disabilities in the same way they treat paper clips or potholes. It must review the process that it has used to ensure that this never happens again. And we hope that other councils also learn that putting vulnerable people up for sale is not acceptable.”
A long and determined campaign by users and carers groups across the city has forced this campaign into the news time and again. Councillors have been lobbied, politicians fully briefed and a number of demonstrations and protests have taken place. 500 people have applied for Direct Payment to buy their own service rather than trust the council’s tender process.
James Campsie, one of the affected individuals, said, “This is fantastic news and I feel delighted. I like my current provider and now hope I can stay with them.”
Even greater concern needs to be focussed on the Councillor in charge of this process, Mr Paul Edie. In October he accused politicians who managed to stall this process of “student politics”. Now it is clear that without their action the care and support tenders would have been awarded now. Even as late as December 1st, Mr Edie was claiming that the tender award process was “robust”. It is now clear that he did not exercise sufficient scrutiny of the departments he was in charge of and took the words of council officials implicated in the process without sufficient checking. Up until this point we were prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt, we now believe his position is untenable.
Lesley Clemson, the parent of one of the affected individual said, “This process has had a devastating effect on individuals. My son has had a terrible time in the last couple of months. I hold Paul Edie responsible and heads should roll for this mess.”
However there remains a serious concern. The council is proposing to set a Direct Payment rate for hundreds of people who have applied one on the basis of prices bid in this tender process. This rate is what people need to buy their existing services. A range of prices already apply and providers are examining ways of bringing costs down.
Yet the council wants to short circuit this process by using the abandoned tender process to set support costs for the most vulnerable citizens in the city. Deloitte has already said the tender process is contaminated by poor management and execution so what confidence can be placed in the final bids. If lower priced providers were deliberately moved up the ranking then these prices are also flawed.
Ian Hood, Coordinator of the Learning Disability Alliance Scotland said, “We intend to support individuals to challenge through the courts any attempt to reduce their Direct Payments without taking into account their individual needs. If the council goes ahead with this, then they can look forward to their ‘confidential’ Deloitte report being brought into court as evidence!”