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Extra £3m found for vulnerable people in Worcestershire after outcry
AN extra £3 million has been found to help support vulnerable people across Worcestershire at the eleventh hour - after an outcry over shock cuts.
Your Worcester News can reveal how the money will help form a 'transitional fund' for organisations left reeling by a controversial 60 per cent reduction in Supporting People cash.
Supporting People is a yearly £15 million pot that helps fund services like domestic abuse, debt and substance misuse advice, call alarms for the elderly, homelessness prevention, training for young people, and wardens for sheltered housing tenants.
But the county council, which needs to save around £100 million by 2018, is going to reduce the pot by £8.5 million in April.
After a massive outcry, including 5,500 comments during a major consultation, the Conservative leadership has found £3 million in one-off 'transition funding'.
Around £2 million of the funds have come from better than expected council tax collections from the district councils, while another £1 million has been raided from the council's reserve pot.
The funding is designed to last around 18 months in allowing all the bodies hit by the cuts to draw up alternative plans for providing services.
It comes less than a fortnight after organisations, including Festival Housing, said the council was risking a judicial review due to the sheer scale and pace of the changes.
But an extra £1.8 million of 'surplus' council tax has come in from the districts across Worcestershire, allowing them to pull a rabbit out of the hat.
Councillor Sheila Blagg, cabinet member for adult social care, said: "We found during the consultation that most people, overwhelmingly, understood the difficult situation we've been in.
"From the 5,500 comments we've realised that for many, the pace of change has been far too quick to anticipate and we've listened to that.
"We feel the right thing to do is to go slower - and this is like a 'gift from god' from the district councils.
"We are looking forward to moving forward in a positive way."
The leadership will now have to decide which organisations get funding from the £3 million.
More details are due to be released by this week on where the cash will go.
Worcester MP Robin Walker said: "This is very welcome - I know a number of organisations like St Paul's Hostel, the YMCA and CAB (Citizens Advice Bureau) were particularly concerned about Supporting People."
Brian Hunt, vice-chairman of the Worcestershire Pensioners Action Group, said: "Since November to January (during the consultation) they've been criticised from everywhere about this.
"The problems won't change, it will just put it off for a while."
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