Programme deficit halved by assembly

Supporting People services in Wales have been boosted by an extra £4m of Welsh assembly government money, reducing by more than half the expected deficit in next year’s fund.

Social justice and regeneration minister Edwina Hart made the decision to reduce the impact on services of UK government cuts in Supporting People funding for 2006-7.

The overall deficit will now be £3m as opposed to the £7m originally proposed.

Linda Whitaker, the assembly government’s director of housing, told supported housing umbrella body Cymorth Cymru’s annual conference in Llandudno: “£4m won’t fill the hole and I can’t say we can find any extra money – the money unfortunately isn’t thereÉbut we were surprised we could get it down by that.”

She said the assembly government would do what it could to protect the most vulnerable schemes, such as those providing social activities, by providing guidance on how the cuts should be handled. An announcement on this is due soon.

Whitaker added that the Supporting People revenue grant – which was supposed to be handed to councils to manage from April – would be delayed until 2008 at the earliest, because of “weaknesses in strategic planning, commissioning and corporate ownership”.

The grant tends to fund services for traditionally less popular client groups, such as drug addicts.

Whitaker added: “There is good practice but, until we get consistency in performance, the minister won’t risk these services.”


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