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SALFORD COUNCIL £4.4MILLION CUTS HORROR FOR POOR AND VULNERABLE
 

Star date: 23rd June 2014

LIVING IN SALFORD? ARE YOU POOR? ARE YOU VULNERABLE? YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN!

This statement from a Salford Council report says it all… "Communities will need to shift expectations of the public sector and of the City Council's role and some will need to lead and solve their own community issues."

On June 30th, Salford Mayor, Ian Stewart, will finally push through £4.4million cuts to some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the city. This week the Salford Star examines these cuts in detail, beginning with the slashing of Welfare Rights and Debt Advice – just when people need this service most.

Full horror here…


A leaflet given out to Salford's councillors this month by UNISON members working in the Council's Welfare Rights and Debt Advice Service stated everything that needed to be known about the effect of a 37% reduction of ten posts to its staff and a £346,000 cut in its budget, on top of over ten posts cut in the last three years.

First, the leaflet listed Salford's poverty problems…

 We have the 18th most deprived borough in the country
• We have rising unemployment and household income falling for many
• We have the second highest rate of child poverty in Greater Manchester (14,750 children)
• We have the 35th highest rate of possession orders in England
• We have high and increasing levels of household debt with 21,500 households in fuel poverty
• Welfare `reform' will cost the city £28million and 1,000 jobs.

Then it stated… "Salford people desperately need the help provided by this Service and need it like never before. Vital assistance with income maximisation, debt resolution, problems with rent arrears, challenging negative decisions on benefit entitlement and sanctions, appeals, taking up issues around the Bedroom Tax etc…

"The Service is focussed on the most vulnerable, generates £10million for the poorest residents and the local economy" it added "It is well respected over the last 27 years by local people and members…"

You could say that the Council's Welfare Rights and Debt Advice Service will be needed even more as the Universal Benefits system is set to be introduced in Salford, with no-one fully understanding yet its dire consequences.

The public consultation on the cut to Welfare Rights and Debt Advice generated 1,071 responses, 729 of whom disagreed or strongly disagreed with the plans. Even the Council's own report on the consultation states that "There was clear and consistent disagreement with the proposal across all respondee groups. 93% (271) of service users were in disagreement with the proposal, and 90% (75) of carers felt the same…

"There was also a significant level of concern from organisations who responded" it adds "With 75% of organisations disagreeing or strongly disagreeing with the proposal."

The Council is aiming, in part, to make the cuts by putting the advice online or through other agencies, like the Citizens Advice Bureau. But those who commented on the proposals "expressed concern at options to move to more online advice, with access to PC's and the internet highlighted as a common problem. This was also picked up in the Community Impact Assessment (CIA). The CIA has also highlighted that older people are more likely to be disadvantaged by any move towards online service…"

The report adds that "The majority of respondees expressed concern at the ability to access advice from other agencies. In particular, there were concerns raised at future increases in demand negatively impacting on how accessible other services would be if the proposal was implemented."

So, the public is opposed to the cut, the people who use the service are opposed to the cut, organisations who work with the service are opposed to the cut, and obviously those working within the service are opposed to the cut. Yet the cut goes ahead. So what was the point of the consultation, apart from the Mayor ignoring its findings?

The stupid thing is that the Welfare Rights and Debt Advice Service actually brings in money to the city and its poor by helping people access unclaimed benefits and lots more.

The Service claims that it brings in £8 for every £1 spent by the Council on it. And the `saving' by Salford Council will actually mean a loss of £4million to the poorest people in the city and £5million to the local economy.

"Welfare Rights and Debt Advice brings millions of pounds into the city in benefits that people wouldn't claim without their support" says Salford City UNISON's Ameen Hadi "By reducing the workforce you're not, in effect saving money, you're costing the city of Salford money. If the Labour Council won't stand up for our services and fight for people's rights to have access to welfare and debt advice, then our UNISON members are placed to do so and are willing to consider taking industrial action if required."

* To read part 2 of this article - Salford Labour Council's New Tory Style Dickensian DIY Welfare - click here

 

See also previous Salford Star articles...

* Welfare Cuts - If You Need Advice You've Got A Problem - click here

* Horror Cuts Will Drive City Mental – click here

* Salford Council Cuts Services To Pay for Prestige Projects - click here

 


Photo by Steven Speed

wrote
at 19:49:29 on 24 June 2014
Reg Howard - well said . We must all do this . Deprive the Clown Hall Parasites of funds. Starting from july . With you all the way . Where's the rest ?
 
mary ferrer wrote
at 05:00:12 on 24 June 2014
This might sound a daft question,but here goes. What are they doing with OUR council tax.Over the last few years we have houses popping up here and there. We have apartments coming out our ears.All with people living in them and I would hope most will be paying their council tax. So what are they doing with that. The council get grants and the like from central goverment.Wheres that going. I have said for years this council are very bad housekeepers and we are not seeing the fallout. I am sure there are other ways of cutting back.Why hit the most vunerable,again and again.
 
Sid vicious wrote
at 04:59:39 on 24 June 2014
Hysterical
 
Reg Howard wrote
at 04:59:30 on 24 June 2014
Very fair comments Joe, but, what is the solution ? there has been many protest marches and rallies, all of which has not changed a thing, Stewart and his fellow assistants don't give a damn for them, but, there is a way to make them take notice, it would require Salford people to make a stand and send a loud and clear message that they are no longer wanted, my proposal is simple, a campaign of civil disobedience, everybody refuse to pay council tax, without that money they would go broke, I would volunteer to take part, who is with me ?
 
Michael Felse wrote
at 04:58:18 on 24 June 2014
Please do not blame Mayor Stewart or our Councillors. As your photo says it is the Government to blame not our vulnerable Council, seen taking the stick for the Tory policy. I hope our MPs will ensure strong words in Parliament about the effect bad cuts are having on decent people trying to cope with daily life. I urge all potential candidates for the Hazel Blears MP seat to sign a joint petition and deliver that to Cameron and Miliband to make sure they get the message about local people needing access to good services.
 
Joe Oneill wrote
at 18:24:46 on 23 June 2014
From the Greed of Ian Stewart taking a 50% Pay rise over and above the sum paid to John Merry, from the likes of David Lancaster taking 50% over and above his past pay cheque and the ridiculous situation of one Cllr being paid to be the head of international relations in Salford it shows the reality that Salford Labour are a party of self interest. The Mayor attacks opposition to his kingdom by classing people as commies and reds under the bed, in reality we are just people trying to highlight Labours failings, but who really should take the blame for the situation we find our selves in today? who the people of this city to lazy to vote allowing Stewart his chance, without opposition Labour care little only when put under pressure they listen yes we understand what the Tories have done but Labour have done little but shout foul and offer nothing in relation to policies and a way out of the plight we find ourselves in today.
 
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