Life­line for vul­ner­a­ble facing axe

Stockport Express - - News -

A COUN­CIL cri­sis fund that pro­vides food and cloth­ing vouch­ers for home­less and vul­ner­a­ble res­i­dents is facing the axe as part of cost­cut­ting proposals.

The Stock­port Lo­cal As­sis­tance Scheme (SLAS) was set up in 2013 and re­placed com­mu­nity care grants and cri­sis loans.

Town hall bosses have said scrap­ping the ser­vice will save £486,000, with the coun­cil facing a sav­ings tar­get of £16m next year.

Op­po­si­tion coun­cil­lors said the move would be ‘a step too far,’ al­though of­fi­cers said the author­ity will look at ways to mit­i­gate the loss. The scheme supports those liv­ing on the streets, es­cap­ing do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, fam­i­lies un­der pres­sure or peo­ple with men­tal health prob­lems or strug­gling with drug or al­co­hol ad­dic­tion.

Vouch­ers, is­sued in a cri­sis sit­u­a­tion, can be ex­changed for food, heat­ing, cloth­ing, bed­ding and es­sen­tial house­hold goods.

Speak­ing dur­ing a adult so­cial care scru­tiny com­mit­tee meeting, Lib Dem coun­cil­lor Suzanne Wy­att asked deputy leader Coun Wendy Wild for as­sur­ance that vul­ner­a­ble res­i­dents would still re­ceive sup­port.

“The lo­cal as­sis­tance scheme is re­ally good, but if it dis­ap­pears I worry about the im­pact it will have on peo­ple,” said Coun Wy­att.

“I want to know what is in place so the peo­ple who need th­ese ser­vices don’t end up starv­ing or freez­ing - I’m very un­happy about this pro­posal. Can you re­as­sure me they will be sup­ported?” Coun Wild said the coun­cil would con­sult with the pub­lic be­fore mak­ing a de­ci­sion.

Mean­while, Mark Frit­ton, direc­tor of op­er­a­tional so­cial care, said the author­ity was ‘po­ten­tially’ look­ing at other fund­ing streams that ‘might’ be able to of­fer sim­i­lar sup­port.

He added: “While we will look at clos­ing the ser­vice, we will also see if there are other ways that could po­ten­tially meet the needs of those peo­ple. We are look­ing at ways to mit­i­gate, wher­ever pos­si­ble, against the loss of the scheme.”

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