Council Scraps £1 Payments Made To Adults In Day-Care

A small cash payment made to hundreds of adults with learning disabilities attending day-care centres is to be scrapped – to save £42,000. The move has been described as “callous” and guaranteed to cause massive upset among some of Glasgow’s most vulnerable citizens.

The scheme has been in operation for 30 years and provides an average of £1 a week to the adults. In the past, they would often carry out small-scale work but these days the users tend to be more involved in recreational facilities. It is estimated as many as 800 adults receive the payments.

Many of the day-centre clients refer to the payments as their wage packets and according to some families it is seen as their link to the outside world and gives them a sense of self-sufficiency.

The move has been approved by Glasgow City Council which is trying to direct more adults with learning disabilities into schemes in communities. It sees the scheme as an anomaly and as the work-centre model no longer operates believes the attendance money is no longer appropriate.

But staff have told The Herald more service users than ever have profound disabilities and to believe they are capable of any kind of activity beyond what they do at the day centres is wishful thinking.

The Herald understands senior officials and elected members within social work believe councillors may not have been aware of what they were endorsing when agreeing to the “operational efficiency”.

Margaret Miller is chairwoman of the carers committee at the Southbrae Centre in Glasgow’s Jordanhill. She is fearful of the level of upset caused to both the families and day-centre users when the decision filters through.

She said: “This isn’t about £4 a month, it’s what this money means to the people who receive it. For them, it’s their wages, it’s vital they think of it as that, payment for being at work, which boosts their self-esteem and helps them feel like normal people. To deny them this will cause such upset. It’s callous.”

Charities who work with the disabled were equally scathing of the council’s decision, passed as part of its budget last month. Mike Holmes, director of campaigns at leading dis- ability charity Enable, said: “The provision of this payment is a long-standing arrangement that gives people with learning disabilities some sense of purpose. To withdraw it without consultation is insensitive and hurtful. Remember we are talking about some of the poorest and most disadvantaged members of society.”

Phil Robinson, Quarriers chief executive, said: “Many of the individuals using day-care services have a high level of need and these centres are viewed not only as an essential service but provide a whole lifestyle for people who would not otherwise have anything to do during the day.”

Opposition politicians in the Labour-run authority have also pointed to the fact Glasgow froze its council tax last month, with the pledge of no cuts to mainstream services, and point to the amount of money spent on corporate entertainment and overseas trips.

Sam McCartney is the convener for day-care centres with Unison, which represents a large percentage of frontline social-care staff. He said: “I am amazed how low this council is prepared to sink in its ever-increasing hunt for revenue. To target a vulnerable group like this is deplorable.”

But the council insists the practice is out of date and that “more stimulating activities” are the way forward. A spokesman said: “The £1 payment was introduced almost 30 years ago and reflected the somewhat outdated services which were provided at that time. Our focus now is on providing training and employment opportunities which have real potential.”