Cuts in Supporting People funding would ‘mark end of new projects’.

    The Association of Directors of Social Services has written to
    the government expressing its concern for the future of services
    funded under Supporting People, amid fears that the programme’s
    budget could be slashed by 15 per cent in the next financial
    year.

    For the past two years, councils have been asked to model budget
    increases and budget cuts of 15 per cent. The ADSS is concerned
    that the government could now be planning to make the latter a
    reality, following its warning earlier this year of “significant
    reductions” for 2005-6.

    In a letter to Terri Alafat, head of the Homelessness Directorate,
    ADSS Supporting People lead John Nawrockyi warns that any such
    drastic reduction would have “profound consequences”. He wrote:
    “There would be a major impact on the provision of support services
    to many vulnerable individuals, and you will appreciate that local
    authority social services departments are not in a position to pick
    up any consequent shortfalls.”

    This view was widely shared by delegates at the Chartered Institute
    of Housing annual conference last week, who warned that cuts in
    services would mark the end of new projects.

    Wendy Jarvis, divisional manager of housing care and support at the
    Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, assured them that her
    department was lobbying the Treasury hard to ensure that funding
    remained intact.

    But she added that it was up to the local authorities and
    commissioning bodies to ensure vital services did not fall by the
    wayside.

    Local authorities have already been instructed to make 2.5 per cent
    savings on this year’s Supporting People grants, following
    publication of the Supporting People review in February .

    The review was set up amid allegations of “cost-shunting” on the
    part of social services departments and other agencies after the
    ODPM was forced to increase the Supporting People budget for
    England for 2003-4 from £1.4bn to £1.8bn.

    Nawrockyi also raises concerns in his letter about the recent
    confirmation by Jarvis that all Supporting People funding to
    registered care homes is to be withdrawn from April 2006.

    He warns Alafat that councils will not be in a position to simply
    pick up the shortfalls to providers arising from such a “shift” in
    policy. “The majority of support into registered homes took place
    before the Supporting People programme, and we had anticipated a
    degree of protection, even if at reduced funding levels,” he
    says.

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