Westminster commits its own money to meet Supporting People cuts

Westminster Council has pledged to maintain service provision
for street drug addicts, despite anticipated cuts in its Supporting
People budget, writes Shirley

Westminster and Camden Councils’ new “Killing with
Kindness” campaign, which urges people not to give money to
beggars, was launched just weeks before allocations from the
Supporting People pot for 2005/6 were due to be confirmed by the
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. Although some authorities fear
there will be cuts in funding, Westminster said it had £40
million in reserve to make up for any shortfall.

A majority of drug treatment services catering for the beggars, who
include rough sleepers and those residing in homeless hostels, are
funded under the Supporting People budget.

Westminster research showed that around 85 per cent of up to 400
beggars have a hard drug habit. It also found many were coming in
to beg from other London boroughs.

The campaign wants to inform the public about how else they can
help the homeless and argues that giving to beggars was cruel
because it gave them no incentives to access treatment

“We are concerned with cuts to the Supporting People budget
but we will find the money to maintain services for those with a
connection to Westminster because it is a priority,”
confirmed deputy leader Kit Malthouse. He said the council already
had £40m in reserves.

However, a cut in budget could mean a reduction in expensive
services such as specialist care and 24-hour supervision hostels,
warn charities.

Turning Point spokesperson said: “Councils need to make sure
they are backing any enforcement by funding service

Thames Reach Bondway (TRB) out reach services manager Petra Salva
said service provision was patchy across London. “When
councils take a hard line the services need to be in place. That is
not the case across all boroughs.” TRB was commissioned to
undertake street outreach work for Westminster council.

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