Cuts could spell end of job-finding service for learning-disabled in Warks - The Rugby Observer

Cuts could spell end of job-finding service for learning-disabled in Warks

Rugby Editorial 11th Aug, 2016 Updated: 27th Oct, 2016   0

GOVERNMENT cuts mean a Warwickshire service which helps learning-disabled people find jobs may be axed – a move which might put more pressure on councils, healthcare and benefits according to a major charity.

Warwickshire County Council says the Warwickshire Employment Support Team (WEST) needs to close to save £280,000 per year – part of the council’s plans to save £92million during 2014-2018.

WEST is a county-wide service for people with a learning disability, Autism or Asperger’s who want to find paid work. At any given time it helps around 150 people.

The Council has proposed to use other services – such as Learning Disability Wellbeing Hubs, Job Centre Plus and voluntary organisations like Scope, Remploy and Mencap – to fill the gap if the service is axed.

But the Head of Lifestyles and Work at Mencap said people with learning disabilities relied on services like WEST to gain the independence and pride that comes from having their own job.

Jason Hardman said: “Councils are coming under greater pressure than ever via cuts from central government, and employment services for people with a learning disability can be viewed as a luxury service that can’t be afforded.

“The reality is that the impact of long term unemployment on mental and physical health is likely to end up placing a greater financial strain on local authorities, the NHS and the benefits system.

“While overall employment rates have risen, the number of people with a learning disability in employment has decreased.

“The Government has made a commitment of halving the disability employment gap, but cutting services such as this will directly undermine this important manifesto commitment.”

WCC adult social care spokesman Coun Jose Compton said: “Sometimes, very difficult decisions have to be taken in order for the authority to deliver the savings that are required of it.

“However we are confident that, by maximising our use of other provisions in the community and in partner organisations we can best meet people’s assessed needs.”

The council has launched a consultation on the impact of closing WEST, and is seeking views on other support that may be available.

Visit for more information on the service, or to take part in the consultation, which closes at midnight on September 30.

WCC is also consulting with Trades Unions and staff who may be affected. A spokesman said redundancies are anticipated, but staff would be redeployed wherever possible.

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