Post by Colin Henderson on Aug 23, 2016 13:10:05 GMT
Another day and another successful benefit advice service has to close:
A 'vital' benefits advice service for people with disabilities in Surrey is being cut by the county council, months after its leader said a tax increase implemented earlier this year would raise some £12m for adult social care services.
The GetWise service, run by the Surrey Disabled People’s Partnership, which helps to secure benefits for vulnerable people in the county, will close from September 30 due to “unprecedented financial challenges” faced by Surrey County Council. The service supported 552 disabled people from Elmbridge in the last year, and it received 1,200 referrals from around the county in the first quarter of 2016.
The cut comes after Surrey’s Conservative leader David Hodge announced in February that a 3.99 per cent tax hike on Surrey residents would raise an extra £12m to support adult social care services. The increase came following another fall in government funding for local authorities. But Cllr Hodge said the 2 per cent precept for social care included in the increase “would only help reduce the gap” in the council’s funding.
A county council spokesman said: “Unfortunately due to rising demand for services making money ever tighter, in particular adult social care, the GetWise service is being closed. It is has helped thousands of residents across Surrey in the last few years and discussions are currently taking place to ensure support is still available to those who need it.”
The service has supported 13,200 vulnerable residents in Surrey since it was set up in 2013, and has secured £14.8m in benefits for its users in that time.
Clive Wood, chief executive of the Surrey Disabled People’s Partnership, said: “The council’s decision to withdraw funding for the service from September seems to be a result of funding cuts from central government. Whatever the reason, this is very disappointing and will have an impact on many vulnerable residents in Surrey who will no longer have access to this vital service.”