STOP THE LONDON COUNCILS FUNDING CUTS
Following the recent spending review, local authorities are to cut expenditure by a quarter. For voluntary organisations who are funded by local councils to provide vital services this is extremely bad news. Local authorities in London will be the first to make cuts. On November 25 representatives from each borough are meeting to decide which projects to shelve. Many were due to run until late 2012, but London Councils are now saying that contracts could end as early as next March, leaving organisations with no time to find new funding. Services under the axe include a child abuse helpline, support to enable women to escape domestic violence, assistance for the elderly, for homeless people and for destitute asylum seekers, legal advice for people facing discrimination in the workplace and even rape crisis centres. London Councils recently withdrew their pledge to help fund three new rape crisis centres in Ealing, Islington and Redbridge. The capital currently only has one, located in Croydon. London Councils claim that money saved by cutting grants will be ‘repatriated’ to boroughs and spent locally, but services such as domestic violence support cannot be provided on a purely local basis because women often need to move boroughs in order to escape their abusers. Moreover many advice services – for example specialist legal advice for people involved in employment tribunals or those seeking asylum – are significantly cheaper to provide on a Pan London basis. For London borough councils cutting grants is a quick route to saving money. They haven’t thought about what’s best for vulnerable Londoners – for example homeless people, rape survivors, the elderly, people with disabilities, asylum seekers and women facing domestic abuse. These people are bearing the brunt of the cuts we already know about, and these hidden cuts will hit them even harder. London is a blueprint for what happens elsewhere. If essential services are cut in the capital now, further down the line local authorities in other parts of the UK will do the same. This is a further reason why it’s so important to resist. As voluntary sector organisations that provide much-needed advice and assistance to a wide range of people in London, we are urging London Councils to maintain our grants until the end of the original contracts instead of cutting them in March. This will give all of us the time to look for other funding, and will give them the time to thoroughly consider the impact that cutting our grants will have on people in London.