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Scale of Supporting People cuts uncovered

Council budgets to help vulnerable people stay in their homes will be slashed by up to 60 per cent.

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Inside Housing’s analysis of the government’s 2011/12 financial settlement for 150 English councils shows that Supporting People pots will shrink in 16 town halls by more than 30 per cent. Of the 67 councils to lose money, Camden Council in north London will suffer the biggest cut of 60 per cent.

In an apparent redistribution of supported housing cash across England, the government will swell 83 councils’ budgets. The largest increase goes to Conservative-led Bexley Council, which will see its allocation almost double from £3.7 million for 2010/11 to £7 million in 2011/12.

Inside Housing’s analysis comes as the Labour leader of Nottingham Council accused the government of misleading the public about the scale of Supporting People cuts.

Jon Collins has been engaged in a war of words with housing minister Grant Shapps about the scale of the cuts to his council’s budget since December last year.

Mr Shapps accused Nottingham in December of basing its proposal to halve its supported housing budget on a ‘misunderstanding’ of how the local authority finance system works.

Mr Collins hit back in a letter this month by claiming Mr Shapps was being poorly briefed by his civil servants.

Mr Collins told Inside Housing: ‘I’m confident that we are right, and the ministers and CLG are trying to be misleading to cover up the scale of the reduction.’

Nottingham Council has been threatened with judicial review by housing association Framework, which claimed the cuts will endanger vulnerable people. The charity hopes to prove that the government has been unfair and unlawful in its allocation of Supporting People grant. Framework claims Nottingham acted unreasonably by making cuts to its own SP budget. If successful, the judicial review could force both Nottingham and the government to reconsider.

A spokesperson for the Communities and Local Government department said: ‘While we recognise the challenges councils are facing we do expect to see them match our commitment to help the most vulnerable people in society. There is no excuse for councils to be targeting any disproportionate spending reductions on programmes that support the most vulnerable people in their communities.’

Local authorities’ SP budgets are no longer ring-fenced but are rolled into the government’s formula grant, which includes allocations for other services. Inside Housing’s analysis compared SP contributions to the formula grant for 2011/12 with this year’s allocation.

Losers (percentage fall)

  • Camden 60.3%
  • West Berkshire 48.2%
  • City of York 48.1%
  • Rochdale 44.5%

Winners (percentage gain)

  • Bexley 92.6%
  • Stoke-on-Trent 79.7%
  • Blackpool 77.8%
  • Havering 76.7%

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