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Bexley Council changes funding to learning disability sessions

PUBLISHED: 07:00 21 February 2020

Brad Smith says a new funding system for centres that run disability learning sessions could be more cost-effective. Picture: Steve Hickey

Brad Smith says a new funding system for centres that run disability learning sessions could be more cost-effective. Picture: Steve Hickey

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Changes could be made to the way the council funds centres that cater for adults with learning disabilities to make spending more efficient.

It comes as the results of a public consultation have been absorbed by officials at Bexley Council looking at ways to eliminate payments for places that are not being used.

Now the authority says the way it funds these day centres for adults with learning disabilities could face some changes.

It asked centre users, carers and residents who may have an interest in the future of day centres about what they want to see.

The consultation ended on January 6, with 342 people taking part either over the phone, online or at 13 public consultation events including at day centres and colleges.

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The consultation focused on the block contracts the council holds with the centres, which are approaching their legal review period. These currently guarantee funding for the centre provider no matter how many people attend.

Figures show that the council has been paying around £270,000 per year for places that are no longer being used, and the proposal would mean an end to this payment method. Instead, only places taken up by those who choose to go to day centres would be paid for - which is the same for most social care services.

There is no proposal to close any day centres.

Cabinet member for adult services, Cllr Brad Smith said: "Although the issue of day centres is an emotive one and the idea of block contracts difficult to grasp, most people appreciated that we needed to consider our contracting arrangements.

"Our intention is to expand the range and scope of community activities available to adults with learning disabilities across the borough. Our research shows that only 21 per cent of service users with learning disabilities currently use the day centres in Bexley. The Care Act makes it clear that we have a responsibility to promote choice, and look at alternatives for those who prefer not to use them, but at the same time the proposal seeks to provide continued day centre opportunities for those who want them."


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