Council slams Scope Cymru report over disability provision

BRIDGEND council has slammed a report which claimed the borough is among the three worst areas in Wales to cope with cuts to disability allowances.

Research by disability charity Scope Cymru has deemed BCBC in the bottom three Welsh councils, along with Conwy and Monmouthshire, for the effect spending cuts are having on the front line.

But BCBC queried how the information had been evaluated, pointing out its frontline budgets had increased and staff working with disabled people trained to high standards.

A spokesman said: “We do not agree with the findings of this report. The report suggests our frontline budgets for children, adults and older people have been cut by 1.98%, but they have actually increased by 2.7%.”

The “Coping with the cuts” report is calling on low-scoring councils like Bridgend’s to involve disabled people in decision making, as well as tailoring individual and community support and integrating services.

But the BCBC spokesman said disabled people’s families were actually having a greater say about what kind of support is required, as well as the manner in which it is provided.

The research looked into budget decisions made by the 22 councils in Wales with responsibility for social care, and for the first time ranked them on the impact these budget changes will have on the lives of disabled people.

The BCBC spokesman said: “We are working in partnership with health agencies to a greater degree than ever before, and in many cases have pooled available budgets in order to improve services for disabled people.”

He added that more than £7m had been invested in four adult support facilities and the new Bridgend Resource Centre, and that direct payments to local disabled people had increased by 10% over the last year.

The council had also made it easier for people to apply for grants.

The number of disabled people who receive council support either at home or in the community has not changed.

Claudia Wood, author of the report, said: “Decisions on the frontline of disability services will make or break disabled people’s lives.

“It’s not just about the amount you have to spend, but how you spend it.

“Some local authorities are really innovating in an effort to protect disability services – even improve them – with less money.

“Our new coping index goes beyond the top line funding settlement and looks at what this is doing to disability services,” she added.

Suzanne Jones, the director of Scope Cymru, said: “There is no simple way to protect frontline services, but some councils in Wales are coping very differently to each other, despite the fact that over half of them have increased their budgets.”