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Extra funding for County's criticised disability service

[Friday 21 April 2006]

AN additional £300,000 is set to provide a much needed boost to services for people living with a physical disability or sensory impairment in North Yorkshire.

The announcement was made as the County Council was handed a copy of a critical inspection report from the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI).

Extra funding for disability services
Extra funding for disability

CSCI visited North Yorkshire in November 2005 and conducted a thorough inspection of the services provided to local citizens with a physical disability or sensory impairment.

The inspection found that services to disabled people and their carers were "relatively under-developed in North Yorkshire," with the report stating "there had been no clear strategy and no clear planning process."

The County is now playing catch-up in terms of spending on disability services following highly critical comments in the report on the way budget pressures influenced the delivery of, and eligibility for, those services.

The report stated: "This situation had been exacerbated by the decision to restrict eligibility for services in the face of budget pressures. North Yorkshire was a relatively low spender on services to disabled people compared to similar councils and supported a relatively low number of disabled people. The staff groups that worked with people with sensory impairments were very thinly spread and there was inconsistency in levels of service available across the county in relation to these and other services."

County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, executive member for adult and community services, said: "We welcome the inspection by the Commission for Social Care Inspection as it adds impetus to the review of services we began for ourselves 12 months ago.

Derek Law, corporate director for adult and community services, said: "We were fully engaged with the process and worked closely with the Inspectors to ensure that full access was given to information and to users and carers of our services.

"We are delighted that the hard work and commitment of staff was recognised by the inspectors. It is to this County Council's credit that it recognised some time ago that the service for people with a physical disability or sensory impairment was under resourced and established a service improvement review.

"The CSCI Inspectors have noted the work of the review in very positive terms, and recognised that the County Council was being proactive in tackling the issues surrounding this important service."

In addition to the £300,000 extra funding package, the County is also set to establish a strategic board, including representatives from health social care, district council and voluntary services to oversee the future service development.

This move addresses a further concern raised in the report over an apparent lack of leadership as regards services and just how they could be improved. It stated: "There was no obvious leadership for the services to give them focused attention and drive improvement."

The report did not however paint a completely negative picture; in terms of the work carried out by disability staff and their commitment, inspectors were pleased by what they found.

The report continues: "We met many hard-working staff who were committed to doing a good job, and many of those people who were able to access a service told us they were satisfied."

Councillor Metcalfe added: "It was good to hear that people who receive our services are satisfied with them and we are committed to expanding the support we offer by increasing the contribution made by a range of Council Services."

County Councillor John Fort, executive member for adult and community services and newly elected champion for people with physical disability and sensory impairment, said: "I am looking forward to this opportunity to make a difference for disabled people throughout the County.

"I firmly believe that enabling all citizens to live a full independent life is not just a job for social care services therefore I will ensure that the whole council and our partners are committed to promoting full access to the opportunities and services available within the County."

Details of the full report and recommendations for the improvement of disability services in North Yorkshire can be found on the Commission for Social Care Inspection website

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