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The Aberdeen Stronger Together group has produced a new easy read pamphlet on How to Claim Personal Independence Payment. This pamphlet uses photographs of members of the group taken by other members of the group to illustrate key parts of the PIP application process, highlighting important steps and issues to think about in advance.
Personal Independence Payment is one of the most important changes that will be happening for people with disabilities as part of the Government's Welfare Reform programme. On the government's own estimate 40% of current claimants of Disability Living Allowance will get less or no award under PIP. While many others may get an increased award, this is no consolation to those that lose out.
We are worried that people with learning disabilities may be one of the groups that is most at risk of losing out due to many people wanting to fit in and play down their disability. This pamphlet is full of helpful guidance and tips for people to consider from replying to the application letter, completing the application form and going to the assessment. While this doesn't have all the answer and is not a substitute for proper help, it can point you in the right direction.
You can download a copy of this pamphlet here. Member organisations will receive copies in the post shortly and hard copies may be provided to non members on request, subject to availability.
On Friday 11th October, Frankie Miller, Spike from the Quireboys and the Scotland Rugby Squad launched their new charity single, A Bottle Of Whisky for the 2013 Rugby International season. Two of our members, Enable Glasgow and Equal Say will benefit from the returns. Its a fantastic single and we recommend you treat yourself to a copy today. It is available in the Itunes music store now.
The launch was good fun and it was a chance to catch up with Annette and Frankie. Annette has been a friend of the Learning Disability Alliance for a while as she helps to organise an alternative day service for people with learning disabilities in London. As she told us, they are having similar problems in getting funding and dodging the cuts.
We are all hoping the single as well as raising much needed funds, can help to raise the profile of people with learning disabilities throughout Scotland.
Over the first three years of the Council Tax freeze, councils across Scotland have made up the shortfall in their incomes by rapidly increasing the amount that they receive in Care Tax from vulnerable adults. The Care Tax is the proper name for client contributions or charging for non residential community care services.
The Chart shows a consistent rise of 12% in just two financial years, much faster than inflation and we expect further increases when the next round of figures is made available in Feb 2014.
In the three years to 2012 income from charges went up by 29.5% for people using day services, 42% for those who needed equipment and physical aids and a massive 84% for people who got a Direct Payment.
The Scottish Government’s new strategy the Keys To Life was debate in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 24th September. This was a long debate from 2.30 to 5.00. This meant that lots of MSPs got to speak and each got time to develop their points.
Summary: The Scottish Government was proud of its new strategy and felt that it would be an opportunity to improve things for people with learning disabilities. They knew there is still a lot of work to be done but it is a plan to build on the progress that has been achieved so far.
No one who spoke was opposed to the new strategy. Some concerns were raised – would local authorities be able to deliver, what about the charges that people had to pay, what about the cuts in college places, concern about the disproportionate effect that the cuts had on people with learning disabilities, the failure to deliver personal plans to everyone and even the lack of use of modern apprenticeships to support people into work.
Many of the MSPs spoke from a personal experience of people with learning disabilities and their families, others had worked with people with learning disabilities in a professional capacity before becoming an MSP and others knew people in their communities. This shows a real connection between our politicians and people with learning disabilities. There may be some differences in how to take things forward but we can say there is no “indifference” amongst this group of MSPs.
Many of the issues that the Learning Disability Alliance Scotland have been concerned about were raised and a number of MSPs were able to use our briefing in the debate.
You can read on to have the summary of what some of the main speakers said. Or you can click here to read the full report on our website. You can listen to that live or download it in audio to play in your car or on your MP3 player by clicking here.
On Tuesday 17th September the City of Edinburgh Council looked at the Employability and Skills Disability review. This is the report that originally put at jeopardy the future of the Engine Shed and raised the prospect of competitive tendering of supported employment in the city. It has been updated and you can read it here
The Learning Disability Alliance Scotland took a deputation along to put the case for the Engine Shed and the Real Jobs project. Sue McLernon explained what a difference the project had made to her daughter. Chris Johnstone, a trainee at the Engine Shed also was in the deputation. We made the points that while we have heard from Councillors and Council Staff over the summer that there had been no intention to shut the Engine Shed and the that the council wanted to work cooperatively over future developments, we were not sure that all the things that we have heard are reflected in the report.
Our deputation also spoke about how the Real Jobs Project service users had told us how they wanted to keep their service in place too. How they valued their choice but also how they had been turned down for Direct Payments when they applied.
Over 14,000 people signed petitions wanting to keep the Engine Shed, thousands emailing the council and hundreds visiting their councillors, none of these comments got into the report. You would have no idea that many people need other ways of getting support than the “place and train” model. Nor is the fact that despite its own strategy, the Scottish Government has just made its biggest investment in supported employment for ten years and it wasn’t in “place, train and support in ordinary jobs” but in the Project Search internship model.