550 councillors demand rethink on cuts to Supporting People

More than 500 councillors in England have signed a letter urging all town halls to rethink cuts to programmes that provide housing-related support to vulnerable people.

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More than 500 councillors in England have signed a letter urging all town halls to rethink cuts to programmes that provide housing-related support to vulnerable people.

The letter – from the chief executive of the National Housing Federation David Orr and signed by 551 councillors from all parties – says that thousands of people, including homeless people, women fleeing domestic violence, pensioners and people with learning disabilities, could be forced to fend for themselves.

This comes amid cuts of more than 50% by some local authorities.

The list of councillors signing the letter includes three council leaders, 54 leaders of opposition party groupings and 61 members of council cabinets.

It warns that without early identification and support, vulnerable individuals will reach crisis point as their needs escalate and become more severe, leading to greater demand on acute health services, the criminal justice system and carers.

The Supporting People (SP) programme has been under pressure ever since Whitehall decided to pool the funding for the programme with the overall local authority grant.

With some local authorities facing reductions in revenue funding of 28% over the next four years some councils have decided to withdraw funding for projects altogether.

This is despite chancellor George Osborne having announced during the spending review that money allocated nationally to SP – which funds services for more than a million vulnerable people – would be broadly maintained, with a 12% real terms cut over four years.

Recently, ministers have themselves shown concern about cuts to Supporting People. Communities secretary Eric Pickles suggested the government could legislate to stop councils pushing through excessive cuts to voluntary groups.

Orr said: “The fact that so many councillors from across the political spectrum have signed this letter shows just how much concern there is over the future of local services for the vulnerable.

“No one wants to see the homeless, victims of domestic violence and the frail abandoned and forced to fend for themselves. But that’s exactly what will happen in many parts of the country where local authorities are pushing ahead with massive cuts to services which provide a lifeline to the vulnerable.”

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