Tory-run Westminster City Council has outlined proposals to cut nearly £1m from its Supporting People funding, despite ministers advising councils not to hit the budget used to help some of society’s most vulnerable people.
The council’s budget proposals, currently out for consultation, outlined a £967,000 cut in the budget as part of a drive to axe £52m from the council’s budget over the next two years. The news follows Communities Secretary Eric Pickles telling the Communities & Local Government select committee that councils should protect their Supporting People budget and he was “happy to offer guided localism” to ensure it happened.
Mr Pickles said that “most sensible authorities” would see that spending Supporting People funding on its intended area - housing-related support to vulnerable people - would save councils money in the long run.
Westminster Labour group leader Paul Dimoldenberg slammed the proposals. “Westminster Conservatives are ignoring their own ministers and are pursuing a cold-hearted and mean-minded cuts programme that hits the vulnerable the hardest.
“The Supporting People programme is a proven way of saving public money and axing this service will cost council tax payers a lot more as other services have to pick up the bill. Not only are these cuts bad for the community, they also make no sense financially either,” he said.
Westminster cabinet member for finance, Melvyn Caplan, said: “No one wants to cut services, but previous levels of spending are simply unsustainable and like it or not, we simply cannot afford to do all the things we used to.
“This means that we will have to make some tough choices in the weeks and months ahead over the level of services we deliver.
“We will however continue to provide the core services that keep Westminster clean and safe and protect the vulnerable and we’ll have an absolute focus on value for money to deliver more for less for local taxpayers.”