Last week I went to our local (sort of) Learning Disability Partnership Board. It's (supposed to be) a forum with representatives of service commissioners, service providers, the people who receive LD services and their family and carers. When times were good, the council welcomed the input of carers and family members - they had the needs of their LD relatives at heart and were usually the ones actually doing most of the work. This made Lancashire something of a centre of excellence. But not any more.
Now times are hard, services are being cut. We don't like this and had the temerity to say so - not usually in general terms but by raising real concerns about specific problems that were being created. This did not make us popular. So, Lancashire Social Services tried to silence us, by first reducing the 9 local Partnership Boards to 3, and now reducing these 3 to 1 for the whole county. Unfortunately, the problems didn't go away, so we didn't go away either.
At the last meeting, all the time was spent 'discussing' (read being told) administrative matters like terms and conditions for the meeting. Whenever someone tried to ask about an actual issue, they were slapped down with either, it wasn't on the agenda for the meeting (because we'd been given no access to setting the agenda) or it was just another thing that there was no longer any money for (as though this stopped it being a problem)
Eventually I became so angry that I walked out. I don't think Lancs SS even noticed. And if they had, they would probably have seen it as a victory. They've already driven away the organizations that provide what little services are left with funding, health and housing had been driven out long ago, driving out the carers and families would be fine for them. They could then tick the box that says they had consulted and involved the community by having their meeting. (And they do see this as 'their' meeting - they decide if it should take place, where, when and they chair it) The meeting could then be more easily 'managed' as the only people left would be Social Services and a few people with learning disabilities who they could browbeat and shepherd into whatever decisions suited them. Result - Lancashire gets it's policies and cutbacks rubber stamped as supported by the LD community.
Liars. Nasty, manipulative, conscienceless.
Lancashire used to have a reputation for good LD services, supported by strong, caring community links. This is no longer true. Services continue to be hacked for the most vulnerable in the name of 'needful austerity' - and a Labour led council justifies this because the tory government has cut it's funding. It should be fighting these cuts not being a willing tool in implementing them.