Housing Minister Grant Shapps is among the signatories to a letter to the Daily Telegraph this morning criticising councils for making excessive cuts to the Supporting People programme.
Several councils have been plannning big cuts in this area – both Labour such as Southwark, which is almost halving the budget for it, and Conservative ones such as Cornwall. Of course we should not assume a crude link between a budget cut and a service cut. Cornwall argue thee is great potential for efficiency gains and that the budget cut is a "target." But councils which do cut services to the most vulnerable deserve to be held to account by their electorates.
The letter is as follows:
SIR – Thousands of pensioners, women fleeing domestic violence, homeless people and people with mental health problems could be forced to fend for themselves because of unintended cuts being made to a government–funded programme called Supporting People.
Although the Government has given relative protection to this £6.5billion programme – reducing the grant it gives councils to fund these services by 12 per cent over four years – some local authorities have announced that they will make cuts of up to 50 per cent this year.
Cuts of this level hurt vulnerable people but make no financial sense. Without early identification, vulnerable individuals will quickly reach crisis point, making greater demands on health and homelessness services and the criminal justice system.
In December, Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, said: "Most sensible local authorities will come to the conclusion that £1 spent on Supporting People will probably save them £5 or £6 further down the line."
Local authorities need to cut costs. But this shouldn't mean targeting disproportionate spending reductions on programmes that support the most vulnerable.
Grant Shapps MP (Con)
Chief Executive, National Housing Federation
Chief Executive, Women's Aid Federation