Fall in clients is cue for cutback fears

The number of new clients using Supporting People services has
fallen 10 per cent in the past year, prompting concerns that
funding cuts are starting to bite.

Figures from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister show that
84,050 new clients entered Supporting People services in the six
months from April to September 2004. There were 209,845 new clients
recorded in the year April 2003 to March 2004.

Funding cuts equivalent to 7 per cent over three years in
England are set to start in April and David Rogers, chair of the
Local Government Association’s community well-being board, said
they might already be influencing the numbers of new clients.

He suggested councils could have responded by toughening up
their inspection criteria for housing projects in an attempt to
make the savings, adding that he had been contacted by several
councils that had terminated contracts with providers because of a
resource shortage.

A Gloucestershire Council spokesperson said it had issued 104
notices to providers, of which 100 were precautionary. “This was to
protect our position and try to negotiate contracts to bring our
budget back into balance following the cuts,” he said.

A provider who asked not to be named warned that the move would
cause problems, but added: “What else can councils do? They’ve been
forced by the government to reduce their budget.”

The ODPM has denied it is concerned about the effects of
Supporting People cuts despite the appearance on its website last
week of guidance urging councils not to engage in “blanket cuts to

The note reminds authorities that decisions about savings should
be made on a case by case basis. An ODPM spokeswoman insisted the
note was just a “gentle reminder”.


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