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We got the cuts wrong - council
THE leadership of Worcestershire County Council has admitted it got cuts to funding for the vulnerable wrong - and revealed a public outcry led to a change of tack.
Controversial plans to slash 60 per cent from a yearly £15 million funding pot for the elderly, vulnerable and disabled are being slowed down after an extra £3 million was found to soften the blow.
As your Worcester News revealed last month, the money is being put into a transition fund to give service providers time to prepare for the reductions.
During a cabinet meeting councillors said the 5,500 responses made during a consultation swayed them into putting the extra funds in.
It also emerged at the meeting that the money, known as Supporting People cash, helps 70 outside bodies to offer 165 different services.
It includes domestic abuse help, substance misuse and debt advice, 24-hour wardens for pensioners in sheltered accommodation, call alarms for the disabled and homelessness support.
Councillor Marcus Hart, cabinet member for health and well-being, said: "I'd like to place on the record my thanks for all the positive discussions we've had with service providers, who I believe understand the financial difficulties all 'uppr tier' authorities face.
"I became acutely aware that our £15 million budget being reduced to £6.5 million straightaway was going too far, too fast.
"The message we got during the consultation was concern over the scale and pace of change, with providers saying if they had more time they could look at making things work with less money.
"I think they do understand we need to reduce our base budget and it's another example of this cabinet listening to what we're being told.
"Whilst this, I am sure will not make everyone happy it goes a long way to making sure we treat with compassion and humility some of the most vulnerable members of society."
Councillor Adrian Hardman, the leader, said: "We've had a considerable pause in this process and sometimes it's entirely correct to stand back and re-assess the decision."
The council says the £3 million will ensure around 30 to 40 different contracts can be extended by several months, rather than finish at the end of March.
The transition cash is one-off funding, and the plan is still to withdraw 60 per cent of the £15 million kitty over the next year.
In recent weeks the council has come under fire from a range of housing associations, with Festival Housing claiming it could lead to a judicial review.
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