Monday, 18 April 2011

Services for Disabled People and Local Government Funding

The funding of local government in England has been cut by 25%. Cuts to spending will also hit local government funding in Wales and in Scotland, As explained in a previous blog, these cuts are having a severe impact on social care services offered by councils.

This impact may well lead to higher future costs as people denied access to care services suffer from this and end up on a higher rate of benefits or costing the NHS simply because they were denied basic help when it was needed. Community Care published a story last Thursday which highlighted the fact that this is a more general problem.

The article says:

Disabled people could be stranded in unemployment because jobs support services are being devastated by local authority spending cuts, a study has found.

More than half of supported employment providers are facing local authority funding cuts of at least 15% , according to the poll by industry body the British Association for Supported Employment (BASE).

A quarter of providers said they were facing council cuts of between 50% and 100% prompting some to predict that their service would close.

Others were making redundancies and stripping back provision even though caseloads were rising.

The problem in general is not about the local authority spending cuts. although they undeniably make the situation a lot worse than it was. The bigger, but less obvious, problem is that services for disabled people come from three pots of money: DWP spending on benefits and support, NHS and health-care spending, and local government funding.

The three pots of money are not linked in any way so that if, for example, local authorities cut funding for employment support services and thereby force the DWP to spend more, the higher overall cost will not trouble the local authority. Likewise, a disabled person made ineligible for care may well fall ill or be injured, in which case the NHS picks up the tab - probably costig many times more than the original care package.

Again, the higher overall cost does not bother the local authority as they will have 'saved' from their own pot by passing the buck to other pots of spending. The above does single out local authorities unfairly, as everybody does it to some extent. DLA reform is a prime example, with the DWP arguing that state-run residential care homes duplicate services so that the mobility component is not required for residents - shifting the costs away from the DWP.

The same is true of many provisions in the Welfare Reform Bill that affect disabled people. The game played between these spending areas must stp. Each individual spending area tries to cut cost, although this may lead to a higher overall cost. More importantly, it is disabled people who lose out when these games are played, being shuffled around like chips on a gaming table.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

the loss of funding to people in the coumminty allready will destory
the lives and the people who want to be in the community in the nr future well these cuts will put them off the mew system this government want to put in place will have to looked at extremly carefully as diffrent disabled people have diffrent needs