Councillors must call tune on care

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On the face of it, it looks a no-brainer. Scottish Borders Council has to cut spending, and savings can be made if the way it delivers day care services for adults with learning disabilities is revamped.

In February, elected members sanctioned changes, subject to the obligatory consultations, which will cut social work spending by an estimated £200,000 this year.

But at what human cost?

The shocking Panorama programme, secretly filmed at a Bristol hospital and screened on Tuesday, not only gave us horrific examples of man’s inhumanity to man.

It also revealed the utter helplessness of people – dubbed service users – who deserve, and are, indeed, legally entitled to, the same human rights as the rest of us.

About 150 adults with learning disabilities, who stay at home with their familes or carers, avail themselves of day services across the Borders.

For the past six months, they have been charged for the privilege and some of them now face the daunting prospect of new surroundings.

The adage that everyone is different is as true of people with learning disabilities as it is for all of us.

And carers fear greatly that their lives and those of their loved ones, for whom stability is the greatest gift we can bestow, will be irrevocably changed for the worse.

Social work director Andrew Lowe’s hands are tied when it comes to his budget.

Councillors, on the other hand, hold the purse strings. They must listen to the carers and monitor with forensic scrutiny the outcomes of their decisions.