Gemma Mills Six-month lifeline for PAS as money pledged
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