By Hilary White
LONDON, August 18, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The British social services system is coming under heavy criticism after it was revealed last week that a mentally disabled man is to be provided with the services of a prostitute at public expense. The Sunday Telegraph revealed that the trip is part of a national care program instituted by the former Labour government that also provides funding for lap dancing clubs, holidays abroad and subscriptions to internet dating services to people with disabilities.
The unnamed man’s social worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, defended the decision, saying that “refusing to offer him this service would be a violation of his human rights.” The social worker told the Telegraph that social services are there to “identify and meet the needs” of clients, and described the young man as “angry and frustrated.”
The 21-year-old man with developmental problems is scheduled to go to the Netherlands next month for the visit to an Amsterdam brothel. The social worker said that the visit to the brothel was only one part of the planned trip: “He’s planning to do more than just have his end away (have sex) – he’s having a holiday,” he said.
The man has attended two “sexual health and sexual awareness courses” and now wants to “try it.” He added, “The girls in Amsterdam are far more protected than those on UK streets. Let him have some fun - I'd want to.”
“Wouldn’t you prefer that we can control this, guide him, educate him, support him to understand the process and ultimately end up satisfying his needs in a secure, licensed place where his happiness and growth as a person is the most important thing?”
The £520 million scheme, called “Putting People First: Transforming Adult Social Care,” was touted as a means to provide elderly people and those with disabilities additional help with mobility devices and home assistance. A document published in 2007 said that the plan was to “put people first through a radical reform of public services, enabling people to live their own lives as they wish… and promote their own individual needs for independence, well-being and dignity.”
Freedom of Information requests revealed that four local council authorities admit to “condoning” the payment of “sex workers” by disabled clients. Trafford council, in Greater Manchester, said that budgets for disabled care can be spent on anything so long as it is not illegal, “or anything that would bring the council into disrepute.” A spokesman for Knowsley council in Merseyside said requests for funding for sex would be “looked at on a case by case nature.”
A campaign group that promotes paid sex for people with disabilities found that 53 percent of councils have a strategy that “explicitly empowered” disabled people to pursue sex. The group, called the TLC Trust, says it works to “find appropriate sexual and therapeutic services” for people with disabilities, by “inviting responsible sex workers, striptease artists, massage therapists and tantric teachers to list themselves on its website, for the benefit of disabled men and women who may wish to hire them.”
The group said, however, that the practice is not yet widespread. Most councils said they would not “condone” transfer of their funds to pay for sex. Of 121 councils who responded, 97 percent said they had no policy on the topic, leaving discretion in the hands of local social workers and junior managers.
Three years ago, a British hospice for the disabled run by an Anglican nun had arranged for a disabled man to have sex with a prostitute. The Douglas hospice in Oxford was revealed by the Telegraph to have actively cooperated to find a “sex worker” for 22-year-old Nick Wallis, a patient suffering Duchenne muscular dystrophy. It was not widely understood at the time, however, that the practice was considered part of normal operations by government funded social services.
Matthew Elliot, chief executive of The Taxpayers’ Alliance said it was “deeply worrying” that public money had been spent this way. He said, “Many taxpayers will be appalled and offended that money intended for social care has been used in this way.
“What's more, it’s deeply worrying that this scheme has been so vulnerable to these abuses. It’s essential that where public funds are involved, there are the sort of checks and balances in place that prevent money being wasted in this way.”
Neil Coyle, director of policy at Disability Alliance, said, “Public bodies don’t exist to find people sexual partners.”
“When people go to councils for help, they are looking for essential services to maintain some level of dignified existence – help to dress and wash.”