MP demands rethink of ‘callous’ cuts in funding lifeline for vulnerable people

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14 Jul 2014

Newcastle’s Labour MP Paul Farrelly has condemned Staffordshire County Council for imposing ‘callous and short-sighted’ cuts on vulnerable people and has called for the decision to be reversed.

The County Council warned at the end of June that it was withdrawing many ‘historic’ grants from its Supporting People budget, which provides a vital lifeline for hundreds of vulnerable people, many of whom suffer from learning difficulties and mental ill-health.

The Council’s announcement provoked an angry outburst from the local organisations affected which have appealed to Mr Farrelly to help them fight the decision.

Now Mr Farrelly has written to Alan White, the Cabinet member in charge of care services at the County Council, warning that the funding cuts would lead to a rapid escalation of social isolation, mental illness and homelessness for the individuals affected as well as problems for the NHS and other organisations.

“The consequences will be devastating not only for the individuals themselves but for the NHS and other organisations. It is clear that simply shifting the problem on to other agencies will lead to higher costs elsewhere and will do more harm than good,” Mr Farrelly said.

In his letter, Mr Farrelly asked why the County had ignored the advice of its own consultants who had been brought in to examine the effectiveness of the organisations affected and later reported that they provided a valuable role.

“In view of the evidence of the consultants and others, it is difficult to understand the rationale behind the decision to remove funding for agencies whose work is not only effective, but also represents palpably good value for money,” Mr Farrelly said.

He also asked Mr White for evidence that it had carried out a proper evaluation of how the cuts will affect each of the agencies involved and what steps the County would be taking to advise the vulnerable individuals affected about where to look for help in future.

“The approach that is being taken looks, frankly, callous in its disregard for those individuals whose fragile lives will be blighted, and short-sighted in its neglect for the crisis in care that will be the inevitable consequence of the Council’s progressive disengagement from service provision,” Mr Farrelly said.

“For these reasons, I believe your decision to withdraw funding is wrong and unjust and demand an urgent review with a view to its immediate reinstatement,” he added.

The County Council’s review affects around 200 contracts provided by more than 40 organisations. Many of those in the Newcastle area have been told their contracts will not be renewed or will be ended early. Among those affects are:-

• Approach
• Arch
• Staffordshire Buddies
• Brighter Futures
• Heantun Housing Association
• Aspire Housing
• Midlands Heart Ltd
• Sanctuary Housing
• Staffordshire Housing Association
• Alpha RSL
• Anchor Trust
• Action housing and Support