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We are collecting the views of people with learning disabilities to tell the Commission tasked with agreeing more powers for the Scottish Parliament what they think should happen. The Smith Commission , led by Lord Smith of Kelvin, is asking lots of people what they think to help with writing a Bill. This would start the process of handing more powers to the Scottish Parliament.
Lord Smith of Kelvin said: “Following the referendum we have a willingness, shared by all five of Scotland’s main political parties, to strengthen the powers of the Scottish Parliament, within the UK. My job is to create a process through which politicians, civic institutions and the Scottish public can come together, work together and agree the detail of what those powers should be.”
A Statement by the Engine Shed
Over the last year at the Engine Shed has tried to work with Edinburgh Council to resolve our difficulties.
- Receiving a further years transition funding of £211,000 until April 2015 to allow time to develop new opportunities;
- Meeting and working with Business Gateway to develop new ways of workings;
- Working with a Community Enterprise Consultant funded by the Just Enterprise scheme operated by Business Gateway.
- Spending 4 months in an ultimately unsuccessful negotiations with the “Preferred Consortium” to secure a place in a joint tender that recognised the Engine Shed’s unique contribution to support young adults in learning employments skills.
- A willingness to explore new option for individuals including self-directed support.
- Exploring way of applying to the Challenge Fund and other Third Party Grants programme available through the Edinburgh City Council;
- Exploring ways of applying for future European Social Funds (subject to first having a grant suitable for matching) from April 2015.
- From April to June, the CEO and directors taking part in a series of three meetings with senior council staff and councillors to explore funding opportunities.
The Mental Welfare Commission has published its latest report on the use of the Adults with Incapacity Act. It looks at the use of welfare guardianship.
The 2013-14 report shows a continued year-on-year rise in the number of applications for welfare guardianship being granted, with a 58% increase over the past four years. Dundee, Glasgow and Stirling showed the highest rates of new orders.
There was a significant reduction in the granting of orders on an indefinite basis, which is a positive change, but again, there were wide variations across the country. Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen City all had high rates of orders approved on an indefinite basis. The Commission also found that significant numbers of guardians were not being regularly supervised by the local authority.
There was a slight fall in welfare guardianships granted for people with dementia, and a rise in those granted for people with learning disability; a trend that has been apparent for a number of years, and which has resulted in 2013-14 being the first year when welfare guardianships were on an almost equal basis for both.
Just two areas Glasgow and North Lanarkshire had 24% of all the welfare guardianship orders taken out adults with learning disabilities. Surely its no coincidence that both these areas claim they are the most advanced areas in the development of Self Directed Support. This would be in line with evidence that we have found that many families are taking guardianship orders out on sons and daughters to ensure that they have a say in protecting their care. This is a worrying trend that means people have less legal control at a time when the Parliament says they should have more.
As we approach Referendum Day, we are publishing the results of a continuous opinion poll we have been conducting over the last year.
At LDAS we were determined that people with learning disabilities should have every chance to be involved in the political debate in Scotland in the run up to the referendum. We weren’t going to be satisfied calling for more information to be published and leave it to people to work through themselves. The referendum have seen a range of communities traditionally hard to engage with actually coming forward and taking part in the debate with their own questions and views. Why should people with learning disabilities be any different.
We ran 52 workshops with more than 700 people looking at issues surrounding independence and how to vote. We travelled from Ellon in the north to Newton Stewart in the south of Scotland speaking to groups. We started from the basis that there should be no “understanding” test. We also wanted to make sure people with learning disabilities could explore a range of ways of deciding and more complicated issues.
It is with some sadness that we have to announce the closure of the Engine Shed in Edinburgh. Below is a statement from Marian MacDonald, CEO going into more detail on this matter. Last year thousands of people signed petitions and protested against the threats to the closure and we were able to win a year’s reprieve for the service. However the policy of the council did not change and it continued to pursue a single approach to helping people with learning disabilities into work.
This made it impossible to secure continuing funding from this council department for a service like the Engine Shed which focuses on providing a more complicated pattern of training opportunities, work placements and job hunting. In addition the Engine Shed’s ability to manage was getting more difficult following several years of the restricted funding from the council. The Engine Shed was getting less money last year than they did 10 years previously.
As far as we are aware at no point in the last year has anyone from the council said that they didn’t want the Engine Shed but it has suffered from not fitting into the new priorities that the council has been promoting. Given that we are moving into the world of choice, Self Directed Support, where people who get services can choose what they want to do with their support, it is strange to see this unique and valued service vanishing by neglect while it remains popular with those who use it.
The questions we will have to face in the future are
· how much choice do people with learning disabilities really have if there is only one model of support for them and
- how many other services that people rely on are also suffering from this gradual restriction on council funding?
ENGINE SHED STATEMENT
You will be aware that over the past two years the Engine shed had been responding to the challenge brought about by the review undertaken by the City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) of their funding strategy for specialist employability service in Edinburgh.