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Emergency funding blow for Wirral
COUNCIL leader Phil Davies has expressed outrage at government plans to ditch a fund allowing councils to divert emergency help to vulnerable people.
North West councils will lose £31m in 2015 – cash previously used to provide emergency food, heating and white goods to those most in need.
Wirral Council will lose £400,000 in cutbacks from the Local Welfare Provision grant.
Cllr Davies said: "My reaction is one of great frustration and outrage.
"At a time when people are being hit by benefit cuts and the bedroom tax to cut the grant for emergency loans is a slap in the face for the most vulnerable members of our community."
He went on: "Our general budget has been cut by a third – we don't have any funding to divert to things like this.
"It will mean even more hardship for the most vulnerable. It is getting to the stage where local authorities are being cut to the bone.
"It won't be long before we can't even fund our statutory services."
Each council is free to allocate the funding according to local priorities and it is predominately used to help those in crisis, with benefit payment problems or for vulnerable people leaving care, prison or faced with homelessness.
Latest information from government states that in 2015 the government will scrap the £174m grant which provides relief to those in need with some of the authorities being hit hardest by welfare reform and council cuts.
The Special Interest Group of Municipal Authorities has previously found that those suffering the highest cuts are those providing for the highest proportion of vulnerable people.
The councils losing the most funding are those with the highest demand for crisis funding.
SIGOMA chairman Sir Steve Houghton said: "This latest cut will take funding away from people who need it in times of crisis and is a further pressure on councils in deprived areas trying to provide for their most vulnerable residents.
"With the effects of welfare reform and huge council funding cuts already planned for 2015, councils are getting ever closer to breaking point."
SIGOMA and the Local Government Association have warned that 2015 is expected to be the year where councils are likely to have to make the toughest decisions about cutting frontline services and they will face an uphill battle to support their most vulnerable people.
Analysis by Sheffield Hallam University has shown that 2015 is also the year that the impact of welfare reform will be hardest felt which is likely to increase the reliance on food banks.
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