Council is risking "judicial review" over cuts to funding for vulnerable people

Supporting People cuts: warning from county bodies

Supporting People cuts: warning from county bodies

First published in News
Last updated
Worcester News: Tom Edwards Exclusive by , Political Reporter

COUNCIL chiefs in Worcestershire have been warned they are "risking a judicial review" if they finalise cuts to funding for vulnerable people.

During a tense debate at County Hall today, a raft of outside bodies told politicians they were "definitely" leaving the authority open to legal challenges if they slash £8.5 million from its Supporting People fund.

The money, from a total yearly spend of £15 million, goes on a host of services for the vulnerable including call alarms for the elderly, wardens for sheltered housing tenants, debt, domestic abuse and substance misuse advice, and homeless prevention work.

More details emerged this afternoon on how the county council cuts will impact, including:

- Festival Housing say a yearly scheme to help 29 young people get training and accommodation could end

- Festival Housing could also axe 32 jobs which are funded via the cash

- More than 40 sheltered housing units for older people in Malvern requiring "high level support" to keep them out of care homes are at risk

- More than 1,700 call alarm services for vulnerable tenants will lose their funding

- District councils say over 1,000 extra people could face going into a care home and becoming "institutionalised" without the funding

Claire Hougton, from Festival Housing, said: "When this whole consultation was launched we were very surprised at the speed of the cuts.

"This gives us very little chance of getting our tenants ready - for us we've got 917 people who get help from this funding.

"The way it's been done you could lead yourselves open to a judicial review, there is definitely a risk of that."

Her views was echoed by other bodies, including The Community Housing Association, which gets funding to offer extra help to council tenants.

Chief executive Yvonne Leishman said: "We've got 1,700 older people on some kind of contract that will end on March 31st.

"The timescale is appalling, we've had no chance to sit down and mitigate for the impact on vulnerable people.

"Our issue is the process you've gone through and the whole way you've done it, I believe there's a whole safeguarding issue."

Some of the cash goes towards other services like furniture removal and mental health advice.

During the debate, which took place during a meeting of the council's adult care and well being panel, the bodies were told central Government was largely to blame.

Dr Richard Harling, a director in charge of adult social care, said: "For the people who say 'we didn't see this coming', well neither did the council.

"It wasn't until late autumn that we realised we'd have to save £30 million in 2014/15."

Supporting People is a non-statutory spending area but the protesting organisations insisted it was saving taxpayers millions by keeping people, mainly pensioners, out of care.

Councillor Sheila Blagg, the cabinet member for adult social care, said: "I am not in charge of what funds come down from central Government."

The county council needs to save £98 million by 2017 largely due to Government cuts and huge demographic pressures.

The funding earmarked for adult social care is currently 42 per cent of the entire budget and will stay that way for the next three years, but the overall spend is therefore effectively shrinking.

 

Comments (7)

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9:37pm Tue 28 Jan 14

Phil Oliver says...

I would like to know if Councillor Blagg feels that cutting funding to organisations which provide services to the most vunerable and the poorest people in the county is justifiable? Does she agree that the massive cuts in government grant to the county are necessary? Is her function merely to wield the axe and not express any criticism of the coalition?. It is astonishing that Conservative Party councillors stay totally mute while their party enthusiastically destroys local government.
I would like to know if Councillor Blagg feels that cutting funding to organisations which provide services to the most vunerable and the poorest people in the county is justifiable? Does she agree that the massive cuts in government grant to the county are necessary? Is her function merely to wield the axe and not express any criticism of the coalition?. It is astonishing that Conservative Party councillors stay totally mute while their party enthusiastically destroys local government. Phil Oliver
  • Score: 3

10:44pm Tue 28 Jan 14

Mrfade says...

if Mrs Blag hadn't voted to up the waste budget with the rest of the cabinet by about £6 million per annum, to pay for an incinerator we don't need, when we could be saving £ 12 million per annum on current costs, plus the additional £6,M,we would be £18 million better off . That would mean = no cuts.

Cuts to the vulnerable don't count as there aren't enough of them to affect the seat of a Tory councillor. So it's up to the rest of us. Do you care enough?
if Mrs Blag hadn't voted to up the waste budget with the rest of the cabinet by about £6 million per annum, to pay for an incinerator we don't need, when we could be saving £ 12 million per annum on current costs, plus the additional £6,M,we would be £18 million better off . That would mean = no cuts. Cuts to the vulnerable don't count as there aren't enough of them to affect the seat of a Tory councillor. So it's up to the rest of us. Do you care enough? Mrfade
  • Score: 0

7:16am Wed 29 Jan 14

green49 says...

This council is heading for a big fall, the way its handling all these cuts is wrong, it has no respect or care form the vunerable,
This council is heading for a big fall, the way its handling all these cuts is wrong, it has no respect or care form the vunerable, green49
  • Score: 0

8:28am Wed 29 Jan 14

green49 says...

The supporting people fund was ring fenced, then when it was removed anyone in council departments could dip into it for anything, road repairs, etc etc which was completley wrong,
Councillor Blagg will not take advice from anyone nor Hardman, they know full well the amount of protest over cuts to the vunerable, they just dont care, but they are allright jack and they are just following the party line, these Tories have no compassion, they do not care about anyone but themselves and thats what i have grown up with, they will not change.
The supporting people fund was ring fenced, then when it was removed anyone in council departments could dip into it for anything, road repairs, etc etc which was completley wrong, Councillor Blagg will not take advice from anyone nor Hardman, they know full well the amount of protest over cuts to the vunerable, they just dont care, but they are allright jack and they are just following the party line, these Tories have no compassion, they do not care about anyone but themselves and thats what i have grown up with, they will not change. green49
  • Score: 0

9:59am Wed 29 Jan 14

brooksider says...

The County Council are big on wasteful grandiose schemes but fail badly on the basics.
How hard are these people lobbying the Government to help protect local services?
It is much to easy to blame Central Government and it does seem they are very much part of problem.
The County Council are big on wasteful grandiose schemes but fail badly on the basics. How hard are these people lobbying the Government to help protect local services? It is much to easy to blame Central Government and it does seem they are very much part of problem. brooksider
  • Score: 1

10:20am Wed 29 Jan 14

rackedoff says...

Come on WN, start challenging some of the excuses used by these Tories; decisions on spending the budget are made locally and NOT by Government. The issue here is the decision NOT to increase the proportion of the budget that is spent on Adult Social care services so as to be able to spend on other services such as economic development and more road junctions like the one at Whittington. Maybe the HIVE could become a hostel as well as a youth centre!
And while I'm about it the Council Leader tells the WN that other shire counties do not have supporting people budgets and that Wiltshire Council is failing without a Chief Executive - take a closer look WN - no supporting people budget may be but other Councils still provide services that budget funded and is Wiltshire failing? Tom, guess Journos are not what they used to be , but then I presume you would blame budgetary pressures!
Come on WN, start challenging some of the excuses used by these Tories; decisions on spending the budget are made locally and NOT by Government. The issue here is the decision NOT to increase the proportion of the budget that is spent on Adult Social care services so as to be able to spend on other services such as economic development and more road junctions like the one at Whittington. Maybe the HIVE could become a hostel as well as a youth centre! And while I'm about it the Council Leader tells the WN that other shire counties do not have supporting people budgets and that Wiltshire Council is failing without a Chief Executive - take a closer look WN - no supporting people budget may be but other Councils still provide services that budget funded and is Wiltshire failing? Tom, guess Journos are not what they used to be , but then I presume you would blame budgetary pressures! rackedoff
  • Score: 1

10:01am Thu 30 Jan 14

BobDunn says...

green49 wrote:
This council is heading for a big fall, the way its handling all these cuts is wrong, it has no respect or care form the vunerable,
Agreed. Look at the flooding of homes in Somerset for over 4 weeks due mainly to cuts in dredging local rivers..... keep making cuts in everything except MPs pay and conditions.
[quote][p][bold]green49[/bold] wrote: This council is heading for a big fall, the way its handling all these cuts is wrong, it has no respect or care form the vunerable,[/p][/quote]Agreed. Look at the flooding of homes in Somerset for over 4 weeks due mainly to cuts in dredging local rivers..... keep making cuts in everything except MPs pay and conditions. BobDunn
  • Score: 0

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