Orkney Islands Council is to hold a series of public meetings to explain why they are making cuts to services, including those termed ‘high risk’. The meetings will take place in June. Here is a run down of where the Councillors have agreed to make cuts – also known as savings.
Total ‘savings’ : £1.75million
‘In house’: £1.04million
- Christmas Grant – £64,500
- Waste collections – £65,000
- Roads maintenance – £100,000
- Burial grounds – £5,000
- Economic development grants – £20,000
- Dial a Bus funding – £11,000
- Mull Head interpretation centre and Happy Valley – £300
- Support for learning – £65,000
- Support for learning transport – £6,000
- Educational psychology – £10,000
- Modern language assistants – £30,000
- Community learning and development –£45,000
- Museums service – £30,000
- Grounds maintenance – £25,000
- Summer play scheme – £15,000
- Lunch clubs and third sector organisations – £11,400
- Reduction in homelessness strategy grants – £6,000
Although the categories have been divided up it means that for children and young people with additional needs they will face a cut to services that directly affect them of £96,000.
The councillors have also agreed that they can make some money by raising fees and introducing new charges. These are car parking, youth clubs, garage rents, telecare, frozen meals and day care.
The OIC Budget for 2018/2019 is set at £82million with councillors agreeing to the cuts listed above. The council’s allocation from the Scottish Government was £69million with a further addition of £5.5million to help run Orkney Ferries.
If people have concerns over the cuts before the public meetings in June then they should contact their councillors now.
Related story: Getting It Right For All Our children: Stop the Cuts
I would like to remind parents and guardians of CYP with additional needs, that the Equality Act 2010 and the Children’s Act 2014 enshrines protection to your CYP in law.
The Equality Act requires that educational settings and local authorities must not:
Discriminate against, harass or victimise disabled children and young people.
Must make reasonable adjustments including the provision of auxiliary aid services (for example, tactile signage or induction loops), so that disabled children and young people are not disadvantaged compared with other children and young people.
So basically if your CYP’s additional needs are interfering with their access to education, the school/college/Education Authority is legally mandated to make ALL reasonable adjustments in order to ensure that your CYP is not disadvantaged compared with non additional-needs CYP around them.
Budgetary restrictions are not a legal defence to this, so make sure your child is getting all of the help and support they they need and for which they are legally entitled to.
Don’t get me wrong, I totally appreciate and empathise with the difficult financial situation that schools/colleges and the Council are dealing with.
However a legal responsibility is a legal responsibility, and a lack of additional need support staff, or specialist equipment, or funding, is not a defence against failing to meet legal obligations.
I know, because I have encountered this myself where neither the school nor the local council (it’s happened to me a few times in a few locations) were willing to meet the needs of my children, despite being legally obligated to do so. We have always tried to work with education providers and local authorities to meet these needs, but that’s not always possible and sometimes you just need to stand your ground and did what’s best for those you care about.
With an Oil Fund of £547.25 million that makes tens of millions of pounds each year on investments and interest, these cuts are an ideology, not a necessity!