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£15m pot of funding cut by up to 60 per cent in Worcestershire
A £15 million pot to help vulnerable and homeless people across Worcestershire is being slashed by nearly 60 per cent, it has emerged.
Leading organisations across the county say some services to society’s most disadvantaged people “could end altogether” due to the spending being cut by £8.7 million.
Worcestershire County Council is consulting over wielding the axe to its Supporting People budget as part of plans to cut spending by £98 million by 2017.
Supporting People dishes out huge sums of money to some of the county’s most vital bodies such as St Paul’s Hostel, the Citizens Advice Bureau and Worcester Community Housing.
It includes funding for substance misuse, rough sleepers, those fleeing domestic violence and people with learning disabilities.
Under shock plans Worcester Community Housing, which manages more than 4,000 properties for people on low incomes, is set to lose every penny of its £630,000 yearly grant from the fund.
The group says it has 1,515 tenants classed as vulnerable and the money goes on wardens, call alarms, 24-hour monitoring, vital well-being checks and advice for those in poverty.
Although other organisations are still awaiting their fate St Paul’s Hostel currently gets £500,000, while the Citizens Advice Bureau gets £250,000.
Supporting People donates £1 million to homeless services, but that pot alone is reducing by 48 per cent.
Maggs Day Centre, which does not get any Supporting People cash, says it fears a knock-on effect of more people ending up on the streets because of the cuts.
Mel Kirk, who runs the centre, off Deansway, said: “Any cuts like these are concerning - it potentially have a knock-on for us.”
The spending reductions are the biggest to ever hit vulnerable people in Worcestershire, with all the affected groups saying they are drawing up survival plans.
Paul Griffith MBE, chairman of Worcester Municipal Charities and trustee of the Citizens Advice Bureau, said: “These are huge cuts to the most vulnerable people - it is very concerning.”
Jonathan Sutton, chief executive at St Paul’s Hostel, said: “Until we know the figures, we can only wait and see.
"We know the local authority is in a difficult place, and we know we need to work with them so we can manage best we can with a reduced pot of money.
"We've got a great relationship with them, and will do all we can to mitigate the impact on people."
Helen Scarrett, housing and customer services director at WCH, said: “This will obviously have a dramatic impact on the much-valued services we are able to provide for our older customers, but we won't be turning our backs on care and support.”
Under the proposal £8.1m would be cut from Supporting People in April 2014, and £658,000 in 2015.
The county council says it will listen carefully to public views over the cuts, and that nothing is set in stone.
Councillor Sheila Blagg, the cabinet member for adult social care, said the reductions are part of meeting serious budget challenges.
She also said the current criteria for adults getting social care packages will not change, unlike some other authorities which have decided to save cash by going down that route instead.
She said: “If the consultation is agreed, the council will be engaging with service providers during the consultation to understand the impact of the proposals.
“For those providers where funding may be reduced and/or the service specification significantly changed we will offer a chance for discussions with commissioners (outside bodies) to identify whether there is any support available.
“In some cases there will be opportunities to tender for new services.”
“Any decision will ensure that those adults who are eligible for social care support from the county council will continue to receive it.”