Save Independent Advice in Newham
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Campaign to Save Independent Advice in Newham
Since 2004 Newham Council has funded the provision of independent advice services for Newham residents in the areas of housing, debt and welfare benefits. This service has been provided to a consortium of eight highly regarded voluntary sector organisations enabling them to provide advice services to the hard-to-reach groups they work with.
However, on 31st July 2011, Newham Council cut all the funding for these advice services. Then, on 17th November 2011, in a meeting lasting just 18 minutes, Newham’s Cabinet agreed a plan to overhaul the way in which advice services be provided in the borough. The new vision rules out the option of commissioning external organisations to provide face to face impartial advice and instead proposes that all future advice services be provided by Council officers.
In addition, the Cabinet decided that this replacement advice service should not commence until April 2013, leaving a 21-month gap in the provision of face-to-face advice.
Newham’s vision for a new advice model
Tier 1: A website with general information about housing, debt and benefits
Tier 2: Council officers telling people to resolve their problems for themselves using the website
Tier 3: From April 2013, people with housing, debt and benefit problems and who meet the eligibility criteria below will be offered one to one “motivational support” provided by a Council officer.
The Tier 3 service will be provided through referral only and to those who:
• have lived in Newham for at least two years;
• have not used the tier 3 service before; and
• meet the overall aim of the Council’s resilience policy, which means advice that is focused on reducing reliance on public services rather than advice based solely on the best interests of the client.
L.B. Newham - Profile
• Newham has one of the highest rates of child poverty in London and is one of the top ten most deprived boroughs both in London and nationally
• It is estimated that Newham has the highest population of refugees and asylum seekers in London
• In 2009, 15% of private houses in Newham were designated unfit, compared to 6% in London and 50% of social housing stock in Newham was below Decent Homes Standard
• Newham has one of the highest population turnover rates in London with large numbers of people moving into the borough for very short periods every year
• English is an additional language for over half of the school-aged population
As frontline organisations the majority of our work involves advocating for Newham residents in matters involving provision of services from their local authority. Newham’s vision for new advice services is a major concern for us because:
• There was NO consultation about this model with community/ voluntary sector organisations and their service users;
• It is against the spirit of independent advice and shows a complete lack of impartiality;
• It closes direct access to advice services for Newham residents without first having been referred by a Council officer;
• It discriminates against residents of Newham who are new arrivals and those who have not lived in the borough for longer than two years (e.g. people fleeing domestic violence); and
• It discriminates against the most vulnerable residents of Newham by not focusing on their needs and best interests but on Newham’s “resilience policy”.
To save the provision of independent advice in Newham please join the campaign!!!!
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For more information please contact Aleksandra or Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0207 511 7343.
Thank you for your support!
Roma Support Group