Scottish Borders Council leader David Parker, quoted in your paper on February 2, said: “In these difficult financial times we have been able to protect frontline services and still invest in important services like roads.”
I leave the subject of the state of the roads to you, but frontline services have not been protected. I illustrate this by explaining the situation with regard to my son, Peter.
He has Down’s syndrome and cannot read or write, or live his life without assistance. When we arrived in the Borders 46 years ago the provision for the mentally-handicapped was almost non-existent. Since then substantial improvements have been made and Peter has a happy, fulfilled life.
Financially, he lives on benefits which, due to his lifestyle, his reasonable desires are satisfied. Now his life is threatened with unreasonable financial restraint.
Approximately two years ago the Scottish Government gave its blessing for councils to charge certain services to the handicapped – costs of £346.45 a month which were previously met by social services can now be charged to Peter. Some councils have not charged for these services – ours has.
Initially, Peter’s net income was reduced by 36 per cent. On appeal, the costs to be charged were reduced to £210.95, which results in a net income reduction of 25 per cent.
Can you imagine life for a person on benefits that are reduced by 25 per cent?
In a letter to Peter from Andrew Lowe, SBC’s social work director, it was suggested he could look at TV costs, going out and his shopping to see if he could spend less.
I would like to see anybody in Scottish Borders Council attempt to live on Peter’s income.