Gemma Mills Six-month life­line for PAS as money pledged

Strathearn Herald - - STRATHEARN VIEW - Rachel Clark

Perth Autism Sup­port (PAS) this week re­ceived a fund­ing boost of £15,000 from both Perth and Kin­ross Coun­cil and NHS Tay­side in the wake of its ser­vices be­ing sus­pended.

The one-off of­fer is to help give the char­ity some“breath­ing space”and, along with the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s pledge of £30,000, is hoped to keep the char­ity afloat for the next six months.

Cllr Ian Camp­bell, the leader of Perth and Kin­ross Coun­cil, said he hopes this will be a re­lief to the 650 fam­i­lies who rely on PAS’s ser­vices.

“He said:“I was pleased to hear that PAS will be re-start­ing planned ser­vices, which I am sure will be a great re­lief to the fam­i­lies they work with.

“I hope that the of­fer of fund­ing from the coun­cil and NHS Tay­side, match­ing that pro­vided by the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment, will be ac­cepted, and that PAS will en­gage pos­i­tively in dis­cus­sions about how a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion can be avoided in the fu­ture.”

Many fam­i­lies and sup­port­ers of PAS crit­i­cised the coun­cil and NHS Tay­side for not pro­vid­ing any fund­ing to help keep the char­ity afloat.

How­ever, Cllr Camp­bell said the lo­cal author­ity had never been ap­proached for fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance from PAS.

He con­tin­ued:“I ap­pre­ci­ate that PAS did not take the de­ci­sion to sus­pend ser­vices lightly, but we have looked back at all the records and there is no for­mal re­quest for on­go­ing fund­ing from PAS. The ini­tial fund­ing came from the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment and other fun­ders.

“They never ap­proached us for­mally and never con­tacted ei­ther the chief ex­ec­u­tive, the head of ed­u­ca­tion or me as the coun­cil leader ask­ing for as­sis­tance. We have looked back at the records over two years and there is no for­mal re­quest for fund­ing to any­one in the coun­cil.”

He added al­though they have not yet ear­marked where in the coun­cil’s bud­get the money will be sourced, the promised cash will be trans­ferred to the char­ity as soon as pos­si­ble.

Cllr Camp­bell re­vealed the money has been set aside for PAS with­out go­ing through any con­sul­ta­tion or com­mit­tee ap­proval process be­cause of the time sen­si­tive na­ture of the is­sue.

He con­tin­ued:“I have been ad­vised by se­nior of­fi­cers within the coun­cil, and this has been con­firmed to me by the chief ex­ec­u­tive of PAS, that there were no for­mal re­quests to se­nior of­fi­cers of Perth and Kin­ross Coun­cil for fi­nan­cial sup­port in the pe­riod be­fore the de­ci­sion to close was made. It may well be that this is due to a lack of un­der­stand­ing about the way fund­ing ap­pli­ca­tions to the coun­cil are nor­mally made, and this is an is­sue of­fi­cers will be seek­ing to ad­dress with the board.”

NHS Tay­side has said it is hop­ing to set up a meet­ing with PAS to en­sure the ser­vice and sup­port con­tin­ues now it has been of­fered more fund­ing.

Pro­fes­sor John Con­nell, the chair of NHS Tay­side, said:“We have been work­ing closely with Perth and Kin­ross Coun­cil col­leagues since we be­came aware of the sit­u­a­tion at PAS on Fri­day of last week and are look­ing for­ward to meet­ing with the char­ity’s of­fi­cers.

“Many Perthshire fam­i­lies have told us they ben­e­fit from the ser­vices pro­vided by PAS and there­fore we wel­come the an­nounce­ment that planned ser­vices will re-start next week. Our pri­or­ity now is to con­tinue to con­sider how we can best sup­port the char­ity go­ing for­ward.”

This fur­ther fund­ing boost of £30,000 has been wel­comed by John Swin­ney, MSP for Perthshire North and the Deputy First Min­is­ter.

Mr Swin­ney said:“I am de­lighted that NHS Tay­side and Perth and Kin­ross Coun­cil have agreed to pro­vide an ad­di­tional £30,000 of fund­ing to PAS. This money is vi­tal to en­sur­ing the short-term vi­a­bil­ity of PAS. I am cer­tain that this im­por­tant de­ci­sion will be wel­comed by ser­vice users and fam­i­lies across Perthshire.

“It is how­ever, im­por­tant that a long-term fund­ing so­lu­tion is found as soon as pos­si­ble.

“I will con­tinue to work with col­leagues to help en­sure that such a so­lu­tion can be found. PAS is such a cru­cial re­source for hun­dreds of fam­i­lies in this area and it re­quires a sta­ble fu­ture.”

‘Work­ing closely’ Con­nell NHS Tay­side’s Prof John

Fund­ing Camp­bell Cllr Ian

Pledge Deputy First Min­is­ter, John Swin­ney

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