Post by Colin Henderson on Feb 24, 2012 11:47:06 GMT
We must remember that it's not just the third sector that provides advice services. Nationally much of the welfare benefits and some of the debt advice is provided by in-house local authority services.
Salford has been proposing huge cuts to this area for a while, though there's still not a lot on the net about the detail (so any local knowledge appreciated). However, there is now this excellent eye-witness report of the meeting that "debated" the swingeing budget cuts from alternative news-site the Salford Star. The local democratic process has been mentioned in our "Honest Debate" section so I think it's only fair to see how the three political parties all collude in passing on the pain:
"SALFORD COUNCIL TURNS SALFORD CLOWNCIL AS £24MILLION CUTS APPROVED
"That was pure comedy – I've never seen anything like it" - watching member of the public.
It was supposed to be a full meeting of Salford Council to discuss the serious issue of £24million of cuts to services for some of the most vulnerable people in Salford. But what should have been a solemn occasion soon turned to farce. Salford Council owes the people of this City an apology for this shambles.
It should have been a thorough debate about £24million of cuts to public services and jobs in Salford as councillors gathered to discuss what Councillor Hinds described as "the most difficult budget I've ever had to present".
Instead there were accusations of bullying, a Tory in tears, a councillor swearing, jokes being cracked, councillors nodding off to sleep…and a member of the public ludicrously being chucked out for shouting his disgust at them all.
Oh, and the main debating issue of the day – Cuts to youth services? Welfare rights? Day care services for the elderly? No - the price of car parks… Welcome to Salford Clowncil...
Post by Colin Henderson on Mar 15, 2013 9:31:18 GMT
Here is an update on the huge cuts to Salford Welfare Rights from the alternative local press:
"SALFORD WELFARE ADVICE CUT JUST WHEN NEEDED MOST
Sleepless nights from the Bedroom Tax? Disability Living Allowance cut? Been kicked off Incapacity Benefit? Salford Council has one of the best Welfare Rights Advice teams in the country. But just when you might need that advice most, the team is getting decimated.
Now Salford Council is going to direct people more towards website and online `self help' – even though 68% of people living in social housing do not have access to computers. The Council states that this will "improve the customer journey"…
It was just over two weeks ago, at the last full Salford Council meeting, when City Mayor Ian Stewart praised the Council's Welfare Rights service … "The best in country" he said, adding that the changes in welfare benefits will "raise demand" of an already overstretched service. "The irony is" he explained "that we are forced to make reductions in resources just when need increases." Two hours later, Stewart formally proposed next year's budget which had within it a £350,000 cut in welfare and debt advice.
Over the last few years, Salford Council's Welfare Rights and Debt Advice Service has already had a 30% cut – losing five posts for staff working with older people and people with disabilities. The net affect of this has been that, according to a trade union report, 650 fewer people will be assisted with a loss of over £1.36 million a year for vulnerable people. Council funding for Salford Citizen Advice Bureau (CAB) has also had a 24% cut.
Meanwhile, to save over £100,000, people wanting advice cannot phone the Welfare Rights team directly. They have to go through the Council's call centre, which has reduced accessibility considerably as people hanging on to get an answer eventually hang up. The Salford Star understands that calls to the service are down by a third since the call centre system came in - just when people need it most.
Now, the whole Welfare Rights and Debt Advice service is to be `reconfigured', making it even harder for people to get face-to-face advice. The new `model' aims to direct those wanting help, who are usually desperate and in need of urgent advice, towards a website to get information or to fill in an online form. Yet 68% of those who live in socially rented housing don't have access to computers. Gateways and libraries, where internet access is available, are already understaffed and open shorter hours."