mobility scooter user imageLothian Shopmobility, an Edinburgh-based charity, has lost its £39,000 annual grant due to West Lothian Council’s funding cuts.

Shopmobility provides a mobility equipment loan service to elderly or disabled people to help them get out and about and navigate shops with ease. The Lothian Shopmobility branch has offered vital support to around 50,000 shoppers since its inception in 1991.

However, the charity now faces imminent closure due to West Lothian Council’s decision to axe its funding. The Council has said that it has taken this decision due to insufficient funding from the Scottish Government and the need to reduce spending.

Margaret Wilson, Co-ordinator for Lothian Shopmobility, told Third Force News: “This service is vital for thousands of residents. A lot of our users don’t see anyone else from one day to the next. Our staff are like extended family for many, they’re there for a chat or a blether. They get to socially interact – even just going for a coffee which doesn’t sound like a lot, but will mean a great deal to some people.”

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Local MSP Angela Constance for Almond Valley has expressed her disappointment about the Council’s axed funding in a post on Facebook. However, she praised a local shopping centre for being accessible to disabled shoppers and confirmed that it is considering different avenues to support those with reduced mobility.

Her post read: “Following the news that West Lothian Council will withdraw its funding from Lothian Shopmobility who provide a service for shoppers with a disability or mobility problem, I had a very helpful and constructive meeting with the management team at The Centre, Livingston.

“They outlined the substantial support they have provided to Shopmobility for a number of years, including free rent and financial contributions and advised that they are exploring options to continue to support shoppers. The Centre is a good place to shop particularly for people with a disability as it’s all on one level.

“I remain deeply disappointed with the approach taken by the council and await a reply to my correspondence with them.”

West Lothian Council explained that applications from voluntary organisations for funding had been significantly higher than the amount allocated, and that council officers would work with groups affected to identify alternative funding streams.

A spokesperson for the Council commented: “The council is allocating grants to voluntary organisations totalling nearly £1 million next year. The funding will go towards helping local groups provide voluntary services in West Lothian.

“The council needs to reduce its overall spending by £65 million by 2022/23 due to increasing costs combined with insufficient funding from the Scottish Government – who provide us with 80% of our funding. £16million has to be reduced from our budget in 2019/20 alone and that has a huge impact on our ability to deliver some local services, including our ability to provide funding to local voluntary groups.

“Despite an overall reduction in the amount of funding we can allocate via voluntary organisation grants, a great number of groups and individuals will benefit from the funding.

“All organisations were aware, prior to them applying for grants, that the council had less funding than previous years to allocate. The total funds applied for totalled over £1.6million which is significantly above the council’s budget for this year and next year. Given budget restrictions the council asked an independent panel to consider all voluntary applications to allocate the £944,000 to organisations who applied for the grant funding.

“They assessed each application and made their decision based on which applications had the greatest impact and were most aligned to the council’s priorities. We understand that some organisations will be disappointed with their allocation; however the council has less money to spend than in previous years which makes it impossible for us to maintain the same level grant allocation.”

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https://i1.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/mobility_scooter_incident.jpg?fit=600%2C442&ssl=1https://i1.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/mobility_scooter_incident.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Sarah SarsbyCharities & OrganisationsNewsroomAngela Constance MSP,Lothian Shopmobility,mobility equipment,mobility products,Mobility scooters,mobility service,Shopmobility,Shopmobility funding,Shopmobility scheme,West Lothian Council,wheelchairsLothian Shopmobility, an Edinburgh-based charity, has lost its £39,000 annual grant due to West Lothian Council’s funding cuts. Shopmobility provides a mobility equipment loan service to elderly or disabled people to help them get out and about and navigate shops with ease. The Lothian Shopmobility branch has offered vital support...News, views & products for mobility, access and independent living professionals