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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Fight for survival as charity gets funding cut

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Organisation faces fight for funding after Scottish Government cuts #NeverMoreNeeded

A charity which helps people access self-directed support is facing a fight for survival.

The Scottish Personal Assistant Employers Network (Spaen) has had its funding slashed despite being needed more than ever.

Self-directed support is used by around 2,200 people in Scotland, meaning people employ their own personal assistants to help with things from mobility to cooking and caring.

Spaen represents around 500 of these people but has been told by the Scottish Government its funding is being cut by around half.

The charity is now urging health minister Jeane Freeman to review the decision.

Colin Millar, chief executive of Spaen, said: “We were heading into a pandemic and were not going to turn people away. We managed to fund the full service and offer people advice in the second quarter of the year, but from September we just would not be able to do that.

“With the budget cuts imposed we cannot sustain the level of support and advice and are urging the Scottish Government to review our funding deal. We applied for £120,000 of a £40 billion plus budget and got £60,000. The Scottish Government have told us that if 'people value the service Spaen offers, they should pay for it', a back door to privatisation in my opinion.”

In April, Spaen sent an open letter to Jeane Freeman regarding the PPE which they received for carers to be able to visit the homes of those who have personal assistants.

The open letter stated: “Despite our repeated inquiries to the cabinet secretary’s office regarding the lack of provision and availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) for personal assistant employers throughout Scotland, we have still not received any response or assurance this matter is being considered and addressed with the urgency it requires.

The charity also highlighted people’s inquiries were being turned away because they are not registered care services.

Millar added this was in spite of repeated requests to the cabinet secretary to ensure personal assistants are recognised as “key social care workers.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Social care personal assistants (personal carers) are a key part of the social care support landscape in Scotland. They provide vital support for people all across the country. Spaen are important partners in making sure people employing their own carers have the advice and support they need.

“Scottish Government has funded Spaen since at least 2005, and continue to do so. The total amount they have received this year, which includes additional funding relating to Covid-19, is in line with previous funding.

“We are in regular contact with Spaen, and have made sure they have the option to use this year’s funding from Scottish Government flexibly, so that they can enhance the support they provide to people during the coronavirus pandemic.”