I think last week was one of my most depressing weeks in seven years as a local Councillor. I heard from charities what the cuts programme would means for them. The ‘Edward Scissorhands’ approach this Council is taking to making cuts to the voluntary sector is going to have a devastating impact on the heroic volunteer army that is helping us get through the COVID19 pandemic, but even more tragically is going to decimate services for the most vulnerable in the Borough.
Let me set out some of the impact your cuts programme is going to have:-
- Disability Croydon will have to close
- Croydon Carers will close their respite care programme, their learning disability Carer Support Service and their Health and Well being Service.
- Croydon Vision Staff are facing redundancy, but despite numerous calls and emails to the Council they cannot get anyone to respond to them
- Services for over 65’s will be dramatically reduced
- Woodside Bereavement Service will have to close
- The Croydon Hearing Resource Centre contract with the Council ends on the 31st March, but no one at the Council will confirm what will happen after that date.
If time allowed I could continue giving examples. What is very clear is that Labour’s cuts programme is going to have its biggest impact on the bereaved, people with disabilities and the elderly in Croydon.
Last week CVA in partnership with 20 leading voluntary sector organisations in Croydon asked the Council to pause the cuts programme and instead sit down with the Voluntary Sector and work out how the Council and VCS can work together to run services in the future.
To give you a practical example, up until recently I managed Selsdon Contact a Neighbourhood Care Charity that ran support services for older and vulnerable residents living in Selsdon. Thanks to a team of 300 volunteers we were able to provide a multitude of services on an annual budget of £60,000 per annum, with a grant from the Council of just £15k. I wrote a paper that demonstrated that if the Council and NHS were to provide similar services it would have cost £250,000 per annum.
We all recognise that the Council needs to make financial savings, but I urge Members this evening to take up CVA’s offer and work with the voluntary sector to develop a partnership approach to running services in the future. This approach will produce the long term savings that this Council needs to make. Please pause the scatter gun approach to cuts that you are taking at the moment which is beginning to have a devastating impact on Croydon’s most vulnerable residents.
For all the above reasons I propose and support this motion this evening.