Different opinions on who should act to save autism service

Marion Fellows MP with parents trying to save the One Stop Shop.
Marion Fellows MP with parents trying to save the One Stop Shop.

The Scottish Government has been asked to act quickly to deal with the confusion surrounding funding for autism services.

The Scottish Government‘s funding for Scottish Autism’s One Stop Shop in Motherwell comes to an end in June.

Local authorities have been asked to provide feedback to Holyrood regarding taking on the funding with both North and South Lanarkshire Councils receiving a grant application from Scottish Autism.

North Lanarkshire Council funds another service, HOPE for Autism, and in a letter to the Scottish Government’s permanent secretary, North Lanarkshire Council depute leader Paul Kelly has demanded a solution.

Councillor Kelly said: “It’s outrageous the Scottish Government has ended this funding and left the council to pick up the pieces at the same time as cutting council budgets.

“To add to the difficulty, the council has a longstanding partnership arrangement with HOPE, which provides an excellent, holistic service for people with autism, their families and carers.

“The Scottish Government should either continue to fund the One Stop Shop or create an opportunity to tender for information and advice services in a way which manages the different histories of the two organisations.

“What we have now is a mess of the Scottish Government’s own making and they should sort it out quickly.”

Motherwell and Wishaw MP Marion Fellows pledged to fight for the future of the One Stop Shop during a Westminster debate on Autism Awareness.

Mrs Fellows has also written to council leader Jim Logue to press him to commit to funding to keep it open.

She said: “Over the past few weeks I have received a number of heartfelt e-mails from people in the community, and I have raised their concerns in Parliament.

“The One Stop Shop provides invaluable and comprehensive assistance to those with autism and their families through support, education and even respite.

“The council has recommended HOPE as an alternative, and while staff there do fantastic work, it only provides assistance to children with support for socialising and charges a fee which limits access to low income families.

“The council leadership pledged during the budget process they would try to “protect the services which provide support to the most vulnerable people”, this is one such service and it’s imperative the council secures funding to protect it.”