‘They don’t live in real world’

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THE opposition leader of Notts County Council has slammed the authority’s latest decision over grant cuts for organisations affecting vulnerable people such as the disabled and homeless.

The authority says it has “listened” to the needs of these groups following a three-month public consultation and chosen the smallest reduction option of £10m to its Supporting People budget.

But Labour leader Coun Alan Rhodes said the decision spelled disaster for both organisations and vulnerable people receiving the “vital” community services.

“Once again the Conservative administration have chosen to target the most vulnerable,” he said.

“These people are part of our society and they need our help and support. That support will now be under threat as services and professional help are cut. The problem won’t go away even if the funding does.”

He added: “Those voluntary groups funded by the Supporting People programme are already run on a shoestring and to suggest as the Conservatives do that ‘they have a responsibility of delivering services at lower cost’ displays an appalling lack of understanding and appreciation of the work those people do.”

HOPE for Homeless services manager Sandy Smith said it was doubtful the council had fully listened to public opinion – announcing the decision within hours of the consultation period closing.

“Reducing the Supporting People budget by £10m or 50 per cent is a ridiculous-sized cut and will still leave the voluntary sector in crisis, along with the proposals to slash Grant Aid by 67 per cent,” she said.

“HOPE’s hostel was under threat before the ‘consultation’ because our accommodation is not considered to be good enough for people who are rough sleeping, even though they disagree.”

“Notts County Council need to live in the real world and fund the services that matter to people.”

The news comes at a time when Prime Minister David Cameron urged local authorities not to take the “easy” option of cutting money to organisations and to explore the value for money gained by working with the voluntary sector.

A county council spokesman said the decision had been anounced promptly to ease the uncertainty for groups, while leader Kay Cutts called on partner organisations to become more “innovative” to achieve the best results.

“Next year, Nottinghamshire County Council will receive £29m less in Government grant income than it did this year. A further reduction is expected in 2012/13. Then there’s the extra £39m we have to find to reinvest in statutory services for the increasing numbers of vulnerable adults and children in our county,” she said.

“But we very much value the key contribution made by groups that operate with the backing of Supporting People, and so we’ve worked very hard to arrive at the best possible budget option to allow them to continue delivering their very important services,” she added.