Posted: Wed 3rd Feb 2016

Council leader says scrapping work placement reward payments to those with learning difficulties is “unacceptable”

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Feb 3rd, 2016

Flintshire County Council Leader Aaron Shotton has said plans to end expenses for young adults with learning difficulties on work placements are “unpalatable, unacceptable and will not feature in the Council’s budget proposals” 

Tandem Cymru, a Flintshire-based charity for people with learning disabilities set up a petition against proposals by the council to end the payments for those who attend Learning Disability Day Services.

Around 1000 people have signed the petition against the cost-cutting proposals which would see those with learning difficulties on work placements lose the £3 a day reward.

Assembly Member for North Wales Mark Isherwood said he has also written to Flintshire County Council about the proposals urging them to reconsider their plans to end expenses for young adults with learning difficulties on work placements.

He said he had been informed by a number of constituents that the expenses will be stopped at the end of March.

In a letter to the Council’s Chief Officer of Social Services, Neil Ayling, he said “this appears to be in breach of both the Public Sector Equality Duty and the Social Model of Disability.”

However, in a statement released today Wednesday, February 3 the council has said:

“Further to press reports and concerns expressed by service users and their families about the potential withdrawal of incentive payments to residents who attend work opportunities within the Councils Learning Disability Day Services, the Leader of Flintshire County Council has spoken out to confirm that proposals will not feature in the forthcoming Councils budget.”

Leader of Flintshire County Council, Cllr Aaron Shotton said:

“Both myself and Flintshire County Council’s Cabinet Members are fighting hard to retain services such as Learning Disability Day Services, at a time when in the face of Government-imposed austerity measures, many other Councils are now ceasing even to provide such services.

“Council Officers seeking to find options to make savings in many areas of Council spend in order to provide a legal and balanced budget for the next financial year, many options being discussed are unpalatable given the scale of the financial challenge, this particular proposal regarding Disability Day Services is once such proposal that in my view is unpalatable, unacceptable and will not feature in the Council’s budget proposals for 2016/17.

“However if this unnecessary imposition of so-called austerity by the UK Government is to continue, the challenge of retaining such valued services only increases in the years to come.”

Neil Ayling, Chief Officer Social Services said;

“Service user incentive payments will now not be withdrawn from 1 April. This is to allow more time for consultation with service users, families and other interested groups and to enable any new processes and positive incentives to be established before withdrawing the existing system. We do want to develop our thriving day opportunity service to be even more valued, adopting a system where peoples contribution is rewarded more appropriately.

“The current system is not sustainable financially as the funding to support the allowance was withdrawn some time ago. The allowance is not a wage for work carried out and many of the clients using the service receive disability benefits as part of the national welfare system. Most other councils have already withdrawn the local allowance service users receive and Flintshire is one of the only remaining authorities to continue this payment.

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