Glasgow City Council is set to stop providing day centre facilities for disabled people in 2 of the remaining 4 locations in the city. The Wedge in Pollok and the Southbrae Centre in Jordanhill will be axed as day centres, with service users forced to find alternative support and council staff redeployed.
This is all part of a long term strategy to slash care provision, while standing beside a billboard which reads “Self Directed Support.” While the principles behind the legislation are radical and admirable, its implementation at a time of widespread austerity hasn’t been, as we’ve discussed in more detail here.
In Glasgow, under the guise of providing personalised care, people who access a whole range of care services have had their “needs reassessed,” often with a resulting cut in the personal budgets they are assigned to purchase care from the various public and third sector providers now in competition for their cash.
Unable to afford basic state provision (yes, that’s now a thing), many are forced to seek cheaper, third sector alternatives. Many of said alternatives enjoy enthusiastic council support, since the intention appears to be to remove as much public sector provision as possible. This cheap care necessitates either worse pay and working conditions for thousands for whom caring is much more than a profession or just the provision of a more rubbish service, neither of which are in any way favourable to those who work in or rely upon the care sector.
Back in 2012, Unison warned of the “Glasgow model” for implementing Self Directed Support and suggested the clear intention was to create a pretext to cut services. For those not fluent in bullshit propaganda, this extract from GCC’s own notes on Self Directed Support might as well say “Other service providers are also available. They’re also cheaper, which is handy because we’ll be giving you less money. Bye now.”
The few pages being put before the Executive of the council on Thursday can frame this as being about choice, about a market. What’s hidden is how many people have had their care package removed or reduced and how many people are now unable to afford the provision they need, in order to balance the books at the council.
The fact only 125 of the 418 of those who access council facilities chose, or were able to choose, day care as part of their package could mean everyone now has better care they’ve chosen instead or it could mean that they simply don’t, in real terms, have the choice to access the level of care they need. With massive cuts to the overall budget for care and less available council provision, which is the mostly likely?
Those who use The Wedge and the Southbrae Centre now face being relocated, perhaps not for the first time, given the recent closure of other centres. Many may now opt to take Third Sector provision closer to where they live, rather than travel across the city but many will be forced to go wherever the Council puts them.
The real cost of the relentless attacks to benefits and services for those in need of support won’t make the pages of motions to the Executive committee at Glasgow City Council because it will be borne by disabled people, their friends, families and carers, who are forced to step in when they are failed by the politicians.
These latest proposals are another chapter in the sorry tale of how the Council cooked the books, created a market which it rigged against itself and then tried to absolve itself on any responsibility. If this is self directed support, who is directing it? It would appear that despite the rhetoric of choice, disabled people are not responsible, through choice, for the destruction of public sector care. That’s been entirely the choice and strategy of the Council, who are trying really hard not to care.
This is a budget cut and nothing else, an attempt by those who run the city to balance the budget on the backs of those most in need, using legislation intended to empower disabled people. There used to be 7 day centres for disabled adults run by the Council in Glasgow and if these cuts are implemented, only 2 will remain. No amount of nonsense about choice or our shiny new “Public Social Partnerships” from council bigwigs can hide the fact that this has nothing to do with providing the support people need and deserve, this is self directed austerity, Glasgow City Council style. And it must be resisted.
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