Cuts to housing services to go before full council

Photo credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Photo credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

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Labour has slammed a decision to cut almost £4million from housing services after calling in the decision for further scrutiny.

Last week Warwickshire county Council’s cabinet approved recommendations to restructure its housing related support services (HRS) and reduce spending from £8.6million to £4.875million by 2018.

But the plans have been halted after the decision was called in by the Labour group, meaning any decisions will need to be approved by the full council before going ahead.

Cllr Richard Chattaway, deputy leader for the Labour group, said the cabinet’s vote to slash housing support was “a cut too far”.

He said: “This is clearly something that the overview and scrutiny committee did not agree with. They raised all sorts of concerns and didn’t feel those were taken on board.

“This is a cut too far and will affect the most vulnerable people in our communities.

We made it quite clear before that cabinet meeting that this decision was not what we wanted, yet that was ignored

Richard Chattaway

“We cannot seem to make the Conservatives see that, and given the millions of pounds the council has in reserves, it seems like they are just approving cuts without looking at the impact and importance of them.

“We made it quite clear before that cabinet meeting that this decision was not what we wanted, yet that was ignored.”

The cabinet decision was also criticised by the Green Party and Liberal Democrat councillors.

No party has a overall control on the council with the Conservatives holding 26 of 62 seats. Labour holds 22 seats with nine Liberal Democrat members, two Green members and three Independents.

The council makes its decisions via a cabinet of nine members which agreed at its last meeting to stop the specialist funding for gypsy and travellers, for homeless people and families with support needs, for young and adult offenders.

Under the agreement, spending would be cut by 73 per cent, from just under £3 million to £786,000.

Services for people with learning disabilities and mental illnesses will be cut by 51 per cent.

The changes would see a reduction in spending from £8.6 million to £4.875 million by 2018 in what the council has put down to budget cut from central government.

Recommendations were made by the overview and scrutiny committee, which deputy council leader Alan Cockburn said had been carefully considered and taken into consideration.

A cabinet report states: “The specific budget for HRS services has been protected from significant reduction to date.

“However, the challenging financial landscape and the requirements of the Care Act 2014, notwithstanding the recent amendments announced by Government, mean that the council can no longer continue to commission and fund these discretionary services in the same way.

“Although it is inevitable that we will stop funding some services; how we provide HRS services will be different in the future.”

The county council has no obligation to provide the discretionary housing-related support services.