County's £8m cutbacks ‘will hit those in need’

Worcester News: Councillor warns Supporting People programme faces crisis Councillor warns Supporting People programme faces crisis

CONTROVERSIAL proposals to cut £8.7 million from funding for vulnerable people in Worcestershire should be rejected, says a leading politician.

Councillor Chris Bloore, from the county council’s Labour group, says he fears for the consequences if the Supporting People budget is slashed by 60 per cent.

He believes taxpayers could be landed with bigger long-term costs if the money is taken away once the current consultation ends.

As your Worcester News revealed two weeks ago, the funding helps bodies such as Worcester Community Housing, St Paul’s Hostel and the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

Coun Bloore said: “The Supporting People programme has been a huge a success. It has saved money by getting in early to help some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

“It has also been a big money-saver for the taxpayers by using early intervention before the costs of care rocket.

“These cuts will be devastating to so many people who are often unheard and ignored, and they are looking to us for protection.”

Figures previously reported by your Worcester News show 1,327 people approached Worcester City Council from April 2012 to March 2013, saying they were at risk of becoming homeless. In the first six months of this financial year 589 such approaches have been made.

Coun Bloore also said an in-house council report, dating back to 2010, which lauded the success of Supporting People, is a major reason why it should not be scrapped.

But the council says genuine evidence about how the intervention spending has saved money long-term is thin on the ground.

The Conservative cabinet wants to reduce the budget because of unprecedented cuts in Government funding.

Coun Sheila Blagg, cabinet member for adult social care, said: “We will consult service users and members of the public about proposals for prevention, help and other support services for adults and housing related assistance for young people.

“It is vitally important that anyone who has a view does come forward and takes part so that we can make an informed decision when the consultation closes on January 21 next year.

“No decisions will be made until this happens and any decision will ensure that those adults who are eligible for adult social care will continue to receive it.”

The Supporting People spending, which is entirely discretionary, is aimed at rough sleepers, domestic abuse victims and other at-risk groups.

As your Worcester News revealed this month some councils including authorities in Gloucestershire, Staffordshire and Leicestershire have no such budget.

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