The North Staffordshire Evening Sentinel disclosed that calls are growing for a council to come clean over £4.5 million cuts made to charities helping vulnerable people.
Staffordshire County Council has slashed its £11 million Supporting People cashpot after reviewing 200 contracts and consulting with the organisations.
But the decision was made in private by a councillor and the authority is refusing to publicly reveal which contracts have been lost.
It has listed a host of legislation to argue why revealing the list would be ‘commercially sensitive’.
But charity leaders have hit out at the secrecy.
Hanley-based charity Brighter Futures has lost £253,818-a-year to help people in crisis. Chief Executive Gill Brown, said: “We are talking about some of the biggest cuts to services for vulnerable people in the history of the county. There has been no consultation with communities and the people who rely on these services. Where taxpayers’ money is being invested into organisations there should be accountability and transparency.”
Stoke-based charity Arch is losing £70,000 from domestic abuse services in Newcastle and Cheadle, and a £141,000-a-year mental health project is being axed
Arch director Barry Pitts said: “We understand there is pressure on the local authority to make cuts, but I am concerned about how the council went about this process when such a major decision was made by a single cabinet member with delegated powers.”
Labour county councillors have already called for the budget cuts to be reviewed. They have been given the list of affected contracts themselves and refused to reveal them.
Labour councillor Margaret Astle said: “The council is carrying out drastic cuts and all the information should be available to the public because they are the people who are being victimised and who will be affected by these cuts. It’s shocking that I am an elected councillor and am unable to make the public aware of what’s happening. It’s a terrible miscarriage of justice against ordinary people.”
The Supporting People review was discussed by the council’s cabinet in February. It was decided Councillor Alan White, cabinet member for care, would make the final decision.
Mr White said: “Supporting People is a historic Government grant which is not as effective as it could be in preventing people from getting into crisis and helping them when they are.
“We have worked with every provider organisation through the review, but it’s not possible, for reasons of commercial confidentiality, to publish details of the grants we give to them.
I have no doubt these cuts will go through and apart from the outreach care provided being lost, what about the workers in these organisations.Speaking to a Brighter Futures worker, who works with clients, she is worried sick as she may not have a job by September. I don’t have information on the state of funding in other areas, but I can’t help thinking it’s happening elsewhere or will be. With GPs facing a cash crisis what on earth will be the state of affairs if their supporting networks become fragmented.