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SALFORD COUNCIL TO CUT LIFE AND DEATH DEBT AND HOUSING SERVICES
 

Star date: 30th January 2014

IT'S A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH AS SALFORD MAYOR PROPOSING TO SLASH HOUSING, DEBT AND WELFARE SERVICES

"I can say with candid honesty that they saved my life…" Tom

While Salford Mayor Ian Stewart writes to the Prime Minister about Salford residents `at breaking point', Salford Council is proposing to slash life saving services with the loss, we understand, of 27 jobs in Housing Advice and Welfare Rights and Debt Advice.

The residents who are `at breaking point' give their own verdict on the Mayor's proposals… "absolutely tragic"… "beyond disgusting…ignorant"…

Full details here…


Salford Welfare Cuts Salford Welfare Cuts
click image to enlarge

This week Salford City Mayor Ian Stewart launched a petition called `A Fair Deal For Salford' calling on Prime Minister David Cameron to meet a delegation of the city's politicians to discuss "how we can best protect the most vulnerable in our city".

The first comment by someone who signed the online petition kind of backfired in the Mayor's face… "The Council's decision to remove the funding of the adult and vulnerable client service is a disgrace" wrote Clare "Whoever made that decision should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves - what will all these people do now?

"Homeless people will remain homeless instead of being rehabilitated into supported housing" she added "Elderly and vulnerable clients will suffer and it's astonishing that the Council can approve the £150k assistant chief executive post at the cost of the people of Salford, absolutely disgusting."

The problem is that while the Mayor talks the talk of protecting vulnerable people in the city, the walk he, and fellow councillors, are walking is to slash services that protect those very people.

The hypocrisy has been pointed out by a Twitter feed called @AdviceINSalford which tweeted this week `If @MayorofSalford wants to do something about debt in Salford, why is he cutting advice services?'. Instead of answering such questions, the Mayor blocked @AdviceINSalford so no-one could read about the hypocrisy.

While Mayor Ian Stewart goes public with his concerns about Salford residents `at breaking point', those at the sharp end of his decisions, while acknowledging disgraceful Tory cuts, are actually turning the mirror towards the Mayor and Salford Council…

"If they're hiring someone on £150,000 a year while axing those lower down the chain who save people's lives, that is beyond disgusting, it's ignorant" says Tom "It's diabolical. I would love to sit to sit down with the person who made that decision and hear their justification…"

Tom, a former alcohol and drug addict; Tracy, a victim of domestic abuse, and John, who was living in the back of his car for six months, tell Salford Star how housing advice workers had saved their lives… "They stopped me from killing myself; they're needed" says Tracy.

Salford Council is proposing two sets of cuts to the city's advice services…

The first £350,000 cut, agreed last year, is to `integrate' its Welfare Rights and Debt Advice with Housing Advice and Support services, with the loss of ten jobs. If this cut goes ahead workers in the department have requested a ballot for industrial action.

The second £781,000 cut, which is a proposal for the 2014-15 budget, will mean the loss of 17 jobs in Supported Tenancies (first revealed in the Salford Star's `Mystic Mary' predictions on 1st January – see here) which, we understand, will almost wipe out all housing advice and support, except for a skeleton statutory homeless section which is required by law.

Salford Council, it seems, is proposing to `integrate' its Welfare Rights and Debt Advice service with a Housing Advice service that may no longer exist. However, beyond the financial figures, Monty Pythonesque `integrations' and the fight for jobs and services, are real life tragedies that have been avoided because of the work of these caring staff…

Tracy, a victim of domestic abuse and multiple other problems, fights back her tears as she tells us how her supported tenancy key workers rescued her…

"I was homeless five years ago, they got me a flat and have continued to help me" she says "They don't just get you a house and leave you alone, they make sure you don't get into debt and help with other housing problems. They get things done, they don't judge you and we need these people. If they go I don't know what I'll do. I think it's absolutely tragic.

"These people are so needed" she adds "They have helped so many people who are on the streets."

John was homeless and living in the back of a car for six months, with the stress giving him a double heart attack, before the supported tenancy workers stepped in and got him a flat last Christmas… "If it hadn't been for these people I would have been lost" he says.

Meanwhile, Tom is a recovering addict who suffered from alcohol and substance misuse, and credits the service with saving his life.

"For seven years I had no idea how to live my life, it was just a cloud of drink and drugs, but after six months I managed to get myself off the streets by accessing these services, went into treatment and then into a hostel" he recalls "When the moment came for me to find a place of my own I was taken on by supported tenancies who gave me a hand. The transition from where I was in the hostel into a flat did not go smoothly at all due to a massive mistake by Salix Homes.

"I had given up my place in temporary accommodation, and turned up the next morning to find that because of their mistake I couldn't move in" he explains "I was rendered homeless with nowhere to go and once again my supported tenancies key worker stepped in and I was put up in temporary housing until I was able to move into my flat. They've looked after me ever since.

"I needed that support to help show me how to pay bills, fill out forms, give me a bit of reassurance, because obviously things can go wrong in my situation" he adds "Where I have been able to do things for myself I have done, it's a case of learning. If it wasn't for this service, particularly in that moment when Salix messed up and left me homeless, I would have been left on the street

"The space of time between me picking up a bottle or substance and being in hospital or close to death is about ten days" he reveals "It's an awkward situation to be in, and that was my real worry at that moment in time but they continue to look after me and I can say with candid honesty to anyone that they saved my life."

Now Tom helps other people who are in a similar situation and fears for those who need the service if the Council's proposals go ahead…

"You will find people on the street with literally nowhere to turn and no-one to look after them" he explains "The end game for addicts on the streets is death. That's what happens. Eventually people die and it's not nice. People do relapse even with help, so for those on the street the likelihood of them surviving is very, very slim. It's tragic actually."

Salford Council's staff trade union, Salford City UNISON, has vowed to oppose both the cuts to Welfare Rights and Debt Advice and the Housing Advice Services, plus the proposals to axe Supported Tenancy workers

"Our members recognise that these cuts are caused by a vicious Tory Government but we believe that the Council needs to prioritise services for the most vulnerable people" says UNISON's Ameen Hadi "If the Labour Council will not stand up for the most vulnerable in society it is our responsibility as a union to fight for services and for our members' jobs."

See also previous Salford Star article - Salford families lose thousands of pounds due to ConDem Government cuts - click here

wrote
at 12:27:28 AM on Saturday, February 8, 2014
I hope but wont hold my breath, that the good people of Salford will finally be able to vote this shambolic labour council out! This is not the labour party of yesteryear...but a selfish hypocritical bunch on heartless people. .The pencil will be mightier than the sword come voting day!
 
David Cameron wrote
at 3:36:16 AM on Saturday, February 1, 2014
Petitioning David Cameron A Fair Deal for Salford Ian Stewart - Salford City Mayor Salford 305 Supporters I am calling on David Cameron to sit down with an all-party delegation from Salford, including myself and the city's three MPs, to see how we can work together to mitigate the worst effects of austerity, protect the most vulnerable residents in Salford and enable our city to continue to grow. Under Mr Cameron's Government, the city council is being forced to make £81m of cuts to its services over the next three years - on top of the £97m of cuts already imposed since 2010. At least 1,200 jobs have been lost so far, vital services will disappear and another £94m will have been taken each year from Salford's economy because of the Government's benefit cuts and welfare changes. Please sign this petition to ask the Prime Minister to meet with us to discuss the impact of the cuts, how we can best protect the most vulnerable in our city and how we can continue to bring investment into Salford. Letter to: David Cameron I am asking you to meet an all-party delegation from Salford, including City Mayor Ian Stewart and the city's three MPs, to discuss the impact of cuts Salford's services, how to protect the most vulnerable in the city and how to bring investment into Salford...........Why are you mr Ian Stuart , spending £ millions of salford tax payers money on salford rugby club, bbc philharmonic orchestra, a bridge on the cresant, fountains, peel holdings, ect, ect, ect. Wound't it be better to cut this wastage of our money instead of cutting vital services in salford. Iam sorry mr Ian Stuart, I think you and the Labour Party are just playing politics with our vital services to score cheap political points, I think you are a discrace to the people of salford and if you had an ounce of decency you and your fellow labour councillor would resign forthwith. I can only hope that David Cameron, if he meets Ian Stewart, can get the answers that we the people of salford have been asking both Ian stuart and the salford Labour Party about the above wastage of tax payers money and the closure of vital services which is no more than a cheap political stunt.
 
Potman on the pizz wrote
at 1:25:50 PM on Friday, January 31, 2014
HEAR HEAR ENOUGH IS ENOUGH !!!!! u are so right they are cossetted in the Salford members suite and don't care about us who elected them. My neighbour has benefitted from those supported tenants lot he was a nightmare and they put him right. I am ashamed I voted Labour but I have faith they will make the right decisions for Salford's most needy. Stop blaming Westminster and protect OUR most needy AMEN !!!
 
Enough is Enough!!!! wrote
at 9:38:18 AM on Friday, January 31, 2014
I for one dont want to continue to live in Salford anymore!!! When these services go Salford will be damaged for years to come! More street homelessness, more suicides, children being neglected or abused will go unnoticed for longer as no preventative services are not going into homes!! Statutory Services within Salford are already at breaking point, poverty & depression has already become a part of everyones lifes and the skill and hardwork of the dedicated staff they have lost and are loosing will be gone forever! Unemployment will rise significantly and Salford will go to the dogs!!! As a resident of Salford I have made my feelings known to my local Cllr. Some might say "whats the point", I would say if you took the time to cast a vote for them then why havent you? If you have never used any of the services being cut/closed or have never been in a vulnerable position then you wont get it?? And unfortunately if you do in the future these services wont be there!! This is a VERY sad time for the vulnerable people of Salford who as per usual dont get their voice listened to! People who are in crisis, those with mental health, the elderly, the homeless (I could go on and on) are too busy trying to get through lifes daily battles to have the energy, the health or the confidence to wave a banner outside the Town Hall or 10 Downing Street! I keep reading articles about who is to blame? The tories for cutting Salfords budget, Labour for leaving such a deficit?? Im not interested in listening to arguements like that - whilst thats going on a woman who will have been told she is loosing her support services is going to be trapped in an abusive & violent relationship, will be getting her face smashed in whilst her children hide upstairs in their beds!! The vulnerable people of Salford dont care who,s fault it is!! I will fight till I am blue in the face for these people and families because they cant do it for themselves!! Thank you Salford Star for highlighting these stories!! Enough is Enough!!!!
 
David Cameron wrote
at 1:33:45 AM on Friday, January 31, 2014
@Time for change, change it on May 22nd. Absolutely well said and don't forget, the spineless wonder Ian Stuart is going to spend £2 million on a bridge. I don't know how this labour controlled council can ask the government for more money, this is what you get with labour in charge, spend spend spend, but not where it should be spent, on vital local services, as above. It is labour in control of this cities finances and labour have shown how financially incompetent they are. So stop blaming national government, and start blaming the local Labour Party. We don't have to have any cutbacks in our local services , it's just Ian Stuart and the Labour Party trying to make political gains for the forth coming local and nation elections, most of the people who are moaning on here probably don't even vote and if they do it's probably for labour, this is where the problem is, voter apathy.
 
Time for change, change it on May 22nd wrote
at 3:00:38 PM on Thursday, January 30, 2014
@Marilyn, what are you going on about? Are you a Labour party spin monkey? These cuts are being done by Salford's LABOUR council, yes they have had money cut from government but yet they still splash it out to Salford reds, Peel, BBC, numerous consultants, fat cat jobs etc. What would you rather have the above or these services, it's a local decision not a national one. The buck stops with Salford Labour and to that I have only one thing to say, LABOUR ISN'T WORKING.
 
Marilyn Hurst wrote
at 10:24:31 AM on Thursday, January 30, 2014
This goes to show that because nobody in the Conservative / Lib Dem government needs to access services like these they do not give a flying toss about people at all, I remember before David Cameron's young disabled son passed away which was vey sad; he David Cameron was all for services for the vulnerable and disabled what a turn up for the books that this changed his whole attitude towards them when he no longer needed them for his own means - enough said I think so
 
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