Autism charity to shut doors following government funding cut

11 Jan 2024 News

By wedninth, Adobe

Autism Understanding Scotland (AUScot) has announced it will be closing its doors after the Scottish government cut its funding for autistic children’s services. 

The cuts to services came “with very little notice”, according to the charity, which provides support for autistic people in the local area.

In a statement, AUScot said it had faced issues in attaining longer-term funding which made it “increasingly difficult” to maintain its staffing levels and operate services. 

The Scottish government said it was “sad to hear” that the charity had made the “difficult decision to close”, and that it had provided AUScot with £278,000 in funding over three years. 

The charity said it was “beyond devastated” to announce the closure, which it had decided on after looking at several options to continue its work to no avail.

It is gradually closing all of its services and will officially close at the end of January.

It comes after 45-year-old charity Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre said it would have to make “devastating cuts” to its services if its funding from the Scottish government is not extended.

‘Huge blow to autism charities’ 

In its statement, AUScot said: “Like many charities this year, we have faced significant issues in attracting longer-term funding, and having that funding arrive in a timely manner.

“This has been exacerbated by the fact we are a relatively new charity meaning many funds were simply not open to us, and many funders deciding to pivot away from supporting autistic people. 

“The decision by the Scottish government not to fund services for autistic children, having previously funded this for three years through the National Post Diagnostic Fund pilot, with very little notice, was a huge blow to autism charities and autistic persons organisations across Scotland.”

Scottish government: ‘Sad to hear’

A spokesperson from the Scottish government said it had provided £278,000 in funding over the past three years to AUScot through its Understanding Autism Fund and Autism Post Diagnostic Support pilot. 

It said that AUScot received funding from the Understanding Autism Fund and the Autistic Adult Support Fund this year. 

A spokesperson from the Scottish government said: “The Scottish government is sad to hear that Autism Understanding Scotland have taken the difficult decision to close. 

“We have provided Autism Understanding Scotland with £278,000 of funding over the past three years, and Inspiring Scotland has provided extensive support to the organisation, including support in terms of finances. Unfortunately, Autism Understanding Scotland found difficulty in securing wider funding. 

“We are aware of the loss that will be felt by those being supported by Autism Understanding Scotland and would signpost people to our Autistic Adult Support Fund which provides both national and local support for neurodivergent and autistic people and their families, including SensationALL who provide support in the Aberdeenshire area.”

10 jobs at risk at rape crisis centre

Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre said if its funding from the Scottish government is not extended after it is due to expire in March, it could lose funding for over 10 specialist jobs.  

Mridul Wadhwa, chief executive of Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre, said: “This year we had to take the difficult decision to close most of our services to new referrals because we do not have the resources to meet the need for our support, and survivors were having to wait over a year for our vital support.

“We have only just re-opened most of our services to new referrals. Without the renewal of the Scottish government’s waiting list funding we will lose £380,000 next year, which will result in losing over 10 specialist jobs in our support service.

“This will be devastating for survivors wanting to access our service or waiting for support. It will affect all our specialist support and advocacy services for survivors aged 12 and over in Edinburgh, East Lothian, and Midlothian. 

“We are calling on the Scottish government to hear our plea to protect specialist jobs and support services for survivors.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said in response: “Rape Crisis Scotland and other frontline services are crucial which is why we are investing record levels of funding to support them. This includes over £5 million for the Rape Crisis network through our £19 million Delivering Equally Safe fund.

“We also continue to focus on our Equally Safe strategy, jointly owned with COSLA that is aimed at early intervention, prevention and support services with the goal to eradicate violence against women and girls.”

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