Report from Glasgow City Unison on Personalisation in Glasgow conference:

Over eighty people, including thirty service users, attended a conference on 10 March to discuss and organise against cuts in services and support to disabled people in Glasgow. The event was organised by the trade union UNISON, the Defend Glasgow Services Campaign, the Social Work Action Network and disability groups in the city.

Those who attended heard about how Glasgow City Council has rushed ahead with the implementation of the national policy of Personalisation (also known as Self Directed Support) primarily as a way to save money. The council claims that 20% of current funding can either be “redirected” to other support services or used to help meet the Social Work Department’s annual cuts targets – in 2012/13 they intend to use Personalisation to cut £10M from the city’s social work budget.

No one at the conference disagreed with the principles underpinning Personalisation – who is against choice, services tailored to individual needs and empowerment? However, the way in which Glasgow City Council has chosen to implement Personalisation is leading to cuts in support, less choice, poorer quality services and attacks on support workers’ wages and conditions. A market driven approach to social care will only lead to a “race to the bottom” and damage the current support services in the city.

The conference agreed a campaign statement which includes calling on the council to adopt a no cuts approach, for a more transparent and inclusive individual assessment process, more resources for advocacy services and the protection of workers’ wages and conditions. We now need to step up the fight to defend services for disabled people, and to make the principle of choice a reality rather than a mask for cuts.

The next meeting of the campaign’s Personalisation network, which is open to all groups, is on Tuesday 27 March at 10am in the UNISON Branch Office, 84 Bell Street.

Brian Smith, UNISON Glasgow City

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