Campaigners are warning that homelessness could rise in Nottinghamshire because of a planned £12.5m cut to Supporting People funding as part of a proposed £72m reduction in adult care spending over the next four years.
The plans, which would also see children’s services forced to save £10m over four years, have raised a storm of controversy in the county at their scale, with fears for the most vulnerable – particularly the homeless and unemployed.
Andrew Redfern, chief executive of homelessness charity Framework, warned that if the Supporting People cut went through it would put 350 staff at risk of redundancy and raised the risk of increased levels of homelessness and rough sleeping. The charity receives two-thirds of its budget from Supporting People.
He said: “The cuts as proposed are likely to mean that hardly any of the services we currently provide in the Nottinghamshire borough and districts will continue.
“These are devastating proposals and are quite out of proportion to what it needs to do.”
However the Conservative-controlled council said it had to make changes due to demographic pressures and the increasing costs of meeting the needs of vulnerable children, alongside government cuts.
The savings will also include raising eligibility criteria to substantial from moderate, closing the welfare rights service, the healthier communities service and four resource centres, and cutting back on post-qualifying training for approved mental health practitioners. It is also contemplating cutting the proportion of trained social workers in learning disability teams.
The council claims its plans will provide better value and save money. It will reinvest £12.9m of savings into services for older people and adults with disabilities to help them live at home for longer and improve the take-up of personal budgets.
Kevin Rostance, cabinet member for adult health and social care, insisted there was still much to be discussed, including with the local primary care trust as well as with organisations like Framework.
He appeared to offer hope to Framework, adding: “We can’t pull the rug out from under people’s feet.”
But finances were tight, he said and added: “Some of the things we are proposing hopefully will be more beneficial. Some of the ideas we are coming up with – assistive technology, a revamp of our day centres and the personal budgets – will give people more choices and will benefit people.”
During the Liberal Democrat conference care services minister Paul Burstow criticised councils for cutting services and tightening eligibility criteria before the outcome of the comprehensive spending review, which reports next Wednesday (20 October).
Graham Allen, Labour MP for Nottingham North, said it appeared the council was jumping the gun.
However, with the government expected to announce cuts of 25% to 40% next week, Rostance said: “We’ve got to get on with it.”
The plans will also see children’s services recruiting another 26 social workers, cutting back on some adoption services and asylum-seeking children services and providing less support for disabled children in schools.
They will fund more in-house foster care placements instead of relying on fostering agencies, which are typically more expensive.
All plans will be discussed at a full council meeting on 21 October prior to a three-month public consultation. The final decision will be taken during next February’s full council meeting.
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