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"No cuts to services for vulnerable" pledges Bournemouth Council leader

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kevin's picture
Joined: 09/03/2009

A HUGE cut to Bournemouth’s budget for vulnerable and elderly people has been averted in a dramatic speech.

Council leader Peter Charon announced last night the final £1.1m has been found to plug the gap in a Government grant.

According to a release from the council this morning< the money will be drawn from reserve funds.

The council drew up the plans for major cuts after the Government reduced its ‘Supporting People’ grant from £9m to £5m for 2011/2012.

At least 87 people from 36 groups packed out the town hall to see if the council would change its mind.

And Cllr Charon said the groups, who work with the homeless, mentally ill, elderly or drug addicted, would now get their money.

He announced to the Health Overview and Scrutiny Panel that the final £1.1m had been found from reserves, to complement the £3m that had already been found.

He said: “This Conservative council will not cut funding for frontline services to the most vulnerable people in our society.

“No cuts for people with mental health issues.

No cuts to respite care for carers, and no cuts to supporting people with HIV/Aids – and on and on.

“These are people who need our help now more than ever.”

Groups potentially affected included BCHA, which provides support and specialist accommodation to the homeless, offenders, alcoholics, teenage parents and drug addicts.

Others were 2 Care UK Limited, which works with people with mental health problems, and the Anchor Trust, which assists older people with support needs.

Shawn Ball, 36, from Winton, who uses the mental health group Active Support Homes, said afterwards: “It’s a relief we are safe for one year – but what comes then?”

Nigel Gillespie, 51, from Boscombe<, who was helped by mental health group Alabare, said: “Sense has prevailed. I applaud Cllr Charon. This is about people’s quality of life, not budgets. All I hope is that this is for the long term.”

Councillors welcomed the news, describing the planned cuts as “appalling”, “onerous” and “horrific.”

A Task and Finish team has been set up to see what savings the groups can make in future.

Cllr Charon also said he had met the Government’s Communities Minister Eric Pickles on Monday and ‘made my views known to him very robustly indeed’.

He said the council only found the money thanks to an ongoing efficiency plan that has saved £25m, savings from the recent contract with Mouchel, and also because of its strong reserves.<