When news happens, text BONEWS and your photos to 80360 or phone 01204 537274
Emergency cash lifeline cut for vulnerable people
10:30am Tuesday 19th March 2013 in News
THE borough’s most vulnerable people will be worse off next month after the government slashed an emergency help fund.
Bury Council says that in the 2011/12 financial year, Westminster gave or lent 7,140 people a total of £1 million from the “social fund” for those in dire need of basics such as food and clothing.
Local authority chiefs will run the fund from April 1 and Downing Street has given Bury only £570,871 to hand out in the following 12 months.
“The reduced level means we will inevitably end up refusing customers who would previously have been eligible for support under the current scheme,” a council report out this week says.
Town hall bosses said the result will result in a “frightening situation” that has “created a real mess”.
The Government claims Bury residents were awarded £692,600 in 2011/12, so the latest amount of money is fair, but the council disputes those figures.
Those who apply to the fund include prison leavers, rough sleepers, domestic violence victims, people leaving residential care or mental-health institutions or those wanting to avoid going into a care home or institution. Bury Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) leaders have criticised the budget cut, which comes on the same day as limits on legal aid, the introduction of the so-called bedroom tax and changes to the benefit system.
On the same day, Bury CAB is expected to lose £110,000 — about 20 per cent of its annual budget — despite helping 26,107 people last year at its Bury, Radcliffe and Prestwich branches.
That is 500 more than in the previous year.
Bury CAB chief officer Dave Bevitt said: “For many of the people we see, the reduced scheme along with other changes to benefits will make things much harder and push them toward the very high-interest payday loans and fee charging debt-management agencies. A whole range of reductions is coming in at a time when demand for services is expect to see demand soar. It is a perfect storm.”
The Creative Living Centre in Prestwich helps people recovering from mental illness get back into a normal pattern of life.
Its advocacy and support worker Shelley Dunec said: “This cut is deeply concerning and it will affect a lot of people.
“It’s alarming that so many people are going to be turned away.”