Supporting People is one of the grants that will be rolled up into the general pool of money that councils have from April of this year. It was very important in helping many people with learning disabilities get a home of their own and the support that they needed to live in it. As many as 7,000 people with learning disabilities were getting help through this.
However, the last three years have seen some councils receiving less Supporting People grant while things were evened up across the country. Some voluntary organisations were told they had to reduce their prices or stop doing business. Others had the total money they received reduced by a percentage.
At first it seemed that this was done fairly across the board. The Learning Disability Alliance wrote to the councils that had made most cuts. We asked them how much they had changed the Supporting People money they gave to Housing Associations, Voluntary Organisations and what they used for their own Social Work services. We were very surprised by the results.
Argyle and Bute Council had reduced the money they gave to Housing Associations and voluntary organisations by twice as much as they reduced what they spent on their own services. South Lanarkshire and Edinburgh Councils did almost exactly the same.
Aberdeenshire was the most surprising of all. It had reduced its supporting people grant to Housing Associations and voluntary organisations by over a third, a huge cut. At the same time it had increased its spending on social work services by almost the same amount of money it had taken away from the voluntary sector.
As we describe in the previous article, people who use services are being denied choice in who provides these services. It also seems some local authorities are unfairly targeting voluntary sector providing organisations to take the brunt of spending cuts, and in some cases to fund more local authority services.
The next Alliance meeting is on Thursday 14th February 2008at 10.30 at Ark Housing Association’s offices at the Priory, Canann Lane, Edinburgh.