Small ads

Council cuts to voluntary sector

From Lizzie D

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

I have started this thread as a run-on from the issues raised in the Occupy thread as it seemed to be leading towards a totally separate issue to the occupy movement.

The decision to stop funding Calder Valley Club doesn't surprise me one bit.The idea of the Big Society is being used as 'get volunteers to do it for free' by our council.

That the council has the audacity to then publish a comment that the club 'chose' not to seek funding is typical of their whole attitude towards the voluntary sector.

Readers may be interested to know that they have also undertaken to make the funding of advice and information services in Calderdale a tendering process. And by doing so have excluded several well established voluntary sector agencies from applying (noticeably Calderdale DART -Disabled advice team).

Services for elderly and disabled people are being cut via these back door tactics all of the time.You can find more info here if you are interested Councillors? Now who do we blame for that one? Tim Swift (who is chief executive of Age Concern), our own Janet Battye? or other officers? How long can our Councillors keep passing the buck whilst elderly and disabled people are losing their vital services?

From Darren G

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

I wouldn't like to comment on the CVC at the moment because I've asked Janet to look at the situation. It affects me because my dad attends twice a week and there isn't another equal option on offer.

There is lots of changes happening both local and national, most of the changes affect the least well off the most, but more and more people are realising the normal person are in it together. The ruling class carry on as normal, top Champagne was sold out over Christmas, there was a list of how much different personalities had paid for their new years party.

The Tories say it's the only way, the Liberals say ??? and Labour think it's too fast, but ask the question, did we get us into this mess? No it was the ruling class playing their money games, then when they admitted to not having a clue the normal person had to bail them out, hence disabled people suffering because their club is closing.

We're still spending billions on arms, billions on bonusus for the already wealthy and even extra on fireworks for the new year, yet families are having to bow their heads and ask for charity at food banks.

I think enough said for the moment, but I'm sure a Tory sheep will have excuse.


From Jenny B

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Glad to see a change of topic Liz.

It seems that our council are hiding behind the austerity cuts and using these as an excuse to cut many voluntary sector services. The trouble with the big society approach is that the powers that be seem to think that volunteers can replace skilled workers for no cost. Visit the CAB and see what service you get from volunteers, it is a very very basic service because they are not experienced specialist advisers.

It is commendable that they volunteer but show me one who can deal with a debt issue or help someone appeal against a fit for work decision. The same can be applied to the CVC, their workers are skilled disability support workers not volunteer babysitters.

Having read the DART letter to Robin Tuddenham on the link below, it looks like the same thing will happen to them.Does no one listen to the people who will be affected by these cuts? Don't the elderly and disabled matter any more? Janet Battye is fond of quoting from the consultation held last year to justify the cuts to services. Apparently 'we' voted to cut voluntary sector services! Did we? Or were we simply asked to choose from a list which was important to us? Did we know what the voluntary sector actuallycovered? I didn't.

But, our councillors should do, yet they are not speaking up for these services either. Does anyone else see this as them being too busy trying to blame the other parties and avoid the issues that are affecting real people? When will our councillors stop letting their officers make these decisions without full and open consultation with the public and with themselves, after all aren't they the councillors who we elected to represent us? What impact assessment has been carried out to see how these cuts will affect people?What about the principles of the Calderdale Compact Agreement? Are the elderly and disabled to be marginalised and left to stagnate in their isolation? I am sure that DART and CVC have more than 53 service users who could affect your majority come May Janet. But maybe there service cuts will mean that they cant even get to the polling station! Happy canvassing Councillors, you will surely have a lot to answer for come judgement day.

From Paul D

Thursday, 5 January 2012

The recent consultation seems to form the smokescreen behind which some of our elected representatives seek to hide and defend recent decisions to cut services for the vulnerable. This is a mistake on their part. Like Jenny I found problems with being asked to choose from a range of choices that (given a real choice) I wouldn't choose to make. I sought clarification and highlighted the flaws in the instrument being used to collect my opinion, but got no response. One might assume that in the eyes of our elected leaders, there were no flaws in the instrumentation, or in the process itself, indeed one could clearly see that the purpose of the consultation was to impose cuts, the imposition of cuts was designed into the consultation process itself.

If like me you disagreed and thought there should be no cuts, that we should be actually building more and better services for the increasing number of local people in real need, then there was simply no room for you in the process, you were an outlier, a freak, a statistical irritation, or a spoilt return. My queries were not answered because they couldn't be answered without exposing this sham at the heart of our local authority.

So, those who currently hide behind the smokescreen of consultation need to be reminded that there wasn't one. There was a discussion among local political elites to impose cuts followed by a flawed consultation to implement that prior decision. These same political elites now displace the impact of their prior intention to cut local services onto us, the public. My real concern is for those at the sharp end, those most in need, the very vulnerable. Of course jobs will be lost, but also many lives will be diminished, needs unmet. In an era of 'hard choices' it seems Calderdale quite likes to choose soft targets, austerity for some but hot tea and chocolate hobnobs for those still taking our coin. They need removing from office, deleting from decision making, given something less important to do. Contempt doesn't even come close to describing how these people should be viewed.


From Andy M

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Out of interest what services do you think the Council should be cutting, given that they have to make cuts somewhere?

The real culprits here are the current government and their Big Society hogs-wash.

From Jenny B

Thursday, 5 January 2012

I didn't see any service that I felt 'should' be cut actually Andy. But whilst acknowledging that a cut from central government inevitably meant cuts at local level, I think the voluntary sector has been made a soft target. I'm not particularly militant but I can see that there are an awful lot of chiefs in our council which for the size of it can't really be warranted.

As far as I am aware, cuts have not been made to any department that makes these decisions. So, if you are wanting to start a debate about the wider politics of our council you have chosen a weak opponent I am afraid! My issue is why are particularly disadvantaged groups such as CVC and organisations that were set up to help disabled people, as was the case with DART, being used as political scapegoats, when their cost to the council is relatively low.

Would it not have been fairer to trim costs to a level that allowed these services to run rather than take away the whole funding? Janet Battye and Tim Swift allowed this to happen whilst as put so well by Paul, they hide behind a consultation exercise that probably cost more than the funding these two organisations received.

From Jenny Shepherd

Thursday, 5 January 2012

The Occupiers are saying that the current system of casino or predatory capitalism is wrong and unworkable,and it seems to me that cuts to local government spending are part of that wrong and unworkable system. They're imposed by the coalition government because it believes that everything comes down to the operations of the so called free market and that the role of government should be shrunk in order to make way for private enterprise.

As if the public and private sector are in competition, when it's clear that they do different things, and also that government spending puts money into public sector workers' pockets that they then spend on goods and services from the private sector, and so help keep businesses in business and paying taxes, which can then fund public services. The public sector and private sector are in a virtuous circle, not in competition with each other.

The so-called consultation last year on what services people were prepared to cut was invidious and clearly intended as a way for councillors to later justify making cuts. I couldn't see at the time why anyone would want to take part in it. It was like being asked whether you'd rather have your leg or your arm cut off. Why would anyone want to take part in that kind of discussion?

And why should we accept the need for public spending cuts? As other people have been saying, if the tax avoiders and evaders paid their taxes, if there was a minimal financial transactions tax and if the government stopped spending a fortune in money - and more importantly lives - on misguided wars, there'd be enough money to maintain decent public services. But for ideological/ class reasons, the coalition government wants to make the 99% pay for the fecklessness and criminality of the feral 1%. Can't pay, won't pay seems like a good response to that.

In practical terms, what do we do to keep Calder Valley Club and other vital public services funded? And isn't the energy of the Occupy movement likely to be useful in answering to that question?

From Lizzie D

Friday, 6 January 2012

I agree with both of the Jennys and PaulD on this one Andy. There was not any valid reason to impose such cuts on any service. The fat cats get fatter and the poor get poorer. I bought up the cuts to CVC and DART because they are 2 agencies that I know of that help local people who are clearly disadvantaged. The need of this group of people for help doesn't go away because the government has run out of cash because they have frittered it away on expensive lunches (or useless wars).

People don't stop ageing or becoming sick or disabled. CVC supports people affected by illnesses such as strokes as well as those born with disabilities. Is medical science so advanced that people are all going to be like the bionic woman? No - babies will still be born with cerebral palsy, people will be injured and disabled by accidents, cancer or poor health. That could be you, or me or your mother, or your child. Who will be there to help them if our council can't even see them as being worthy of help? They will be left high and dry, no services, isolated, poor and back to being the underclass. It's to hope those of you who are involved in such decisions cut back on the red wine and duck pate at lunchtime, as wouldn't want you lot to become ill or disabled now would we?

From Tim B

Friday, 6 January 2012

Local Authorities have duties (i.e things they have to do) and powers (things they can do if they wish/funding is available). I'm not an expert but I expect funding voluntary bodies is probably a power.

From Paul D

Friday, 6 January 2012

In response to Andy's question about which services I would cut the answer would be none. I'd expand and enhance services where the need for them is clear and the quality of the provision is high.

Some may see this as utopian and a waste of scares resources, but legal tax avoidance is estimated to cost the UK economy �25 billion a year, the continuation of this is a political decision, just as the decision to cut services for the vulnerable locally is a political decision. Given that the political decision to offer cheap money to the city has thus far cost �275 billion, I'd compare my utopian ideals with the current political appetite to sustain private sector failure.

Whilst services like the Calder Valley Club appear too expensive to fund, private companies such as RBS are seen as too big to fail. As a consequence, the cost of thir directors' reckless gambling is not, as the laws of economics suggest borne by their shareholders (who should have been wiped out) but passed onto us the UK taxpayer. A crisis of liquidity of inestimable proportions within the private sector is ingested by the state and becomes a sovereign debt crisis, i.e. the state eats the debts of these private companies and then becomes dangerously indebted. Speculators then speculate against such states and their only response is to devalue, cut public spending and chatter a mantra of austerity, and/or seek support from the IMF. Not only did Labour begin this catastrophic policy of nationalising private debt and devaluation (feeding inflation), but by doing so they allowed the coalition to turn what was a quite manageable issue of public sector borrowing into a sovereign debt crisis that is now allowing them to launch a full frontal assault on the welfare state.

So, I wouldn't start from the position where a state protects shareholders of private companies and the city of London at the expense of pensioners and those with disabilities in the Calder Valley. The epic scale of the failure of the UK financial sector is behind these ridiculous attacks on the public sector. Political decisions at a national level have not backed local politicians into a corner, they chose to implement these cuts just as the national government chose to protect the banking and finance sectors. There is an alternative and it's to fight against this neo-liberal nonsense, agitate for a public enquiry into state support for failed banks and vote from office those who prefer to visit austerity only on the poor and vulnerable. I also think that given its failure to both provide for and protect the vulnerable, Calderdale may find some way of financing these services as the failure to do so might just expose its contempt for the weak. Political careers are not made by breaking the backs of the weakest members of society, that's fascism. Local politicians take note, you will be held to account.


From Charlotte L

Saturday, 7 January 2012

In response to PaulD, the cuts are not just breaking the backs of the most vulnerable, they are breaking their hearts and their spirit. I work in the statutory sector, our aim is to provide a service to the most vulnerable in our society, these are the sick, the elderly and the physically and/or mentally disabled. Much of work used to be in providing this service face to face, through daycare; community support; direct aids and adaptations. Over the years everything has been outsourced to the cheapest provider, not always the best and not one that always meets our clients needs. We have had to literally scrape the barrel for front line services whilst our managers and directors have spent time and money, juggling figures; cutting corners and reducing service delivery staffing levels. Whilst money can be wasted on consultants; surveys; planners and the like.

The exercise in consultation of the public to 'ask' where our council had to make their cuts, never offered the option of cutting this type of thing, it simply told us what they were going to do and asked us to vote for our least favourite. The low response to the survery and the 'forums' illustrates the public's feelings of apathy and recognition that their views really dont matter to this pointless exercise.

Organisations such as Calder Valley Club and Calderdale DART are acknowledged by us who work in the field, as being vital for our users. Imagine, having a stroke and being unable to work, to stay in your current home, to communicate; to have a life. Organisations such as the 2 mentioned above, are vital. They do what they say on the tin - they proivde an A+ service at low cost to the council - in DART's case this is around �65k per year, less than one of our chief executives earns per year. Value for money? Yes. Valued by the statutory and voluntary sector? Yes. Valued by their 100's of clients? You bet!

So why do our council continue to pick on our most vulnerable? Because they are an easy target? Because their voices are quieter than some? Or because our Councillors have not got a clue about Calderdale's voluntary sector services and instead are led by their officers who seem to have little regard for anyone less able than 'they should be'. There is an old expression used 'people with disabilities don't want a hand-out, they need a hand up'.

I despair for my service users, there will soon be nothing for me to offer them. Tim Swift and Janet Battye have seen to that. Meanwhile, the gentleman who has asked Cllr Battye to look into the loss of his father's day centre may as well spit in the wind.

The silence from our councillors in this debate is deafening.

From Andy M

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Well I'm with you Paul; I've no wish to see cuts to voluntary services like this either but the reality we're in at the moment demands cuts somewhere - so what goes? However, a greater societal say in the decision-making process would be welcome (and be in line with civil society philosophy - however insubstantial its basis and hypocritical its promotion.)

From Jenny Shepherd

Saturday, 7 January 2012

In response to latest postings by Lizzie, Charlotte and Paul - would it be a good idea to start a petition to send to Councillors along the lines in your postings? It could be online and hard copies in shops etc

From Lizzie D

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Jenny, having spoken to a councillor friend (not in Calderdale I must add), she tells me that petitions unless huge, are seen as old hat because 'anyone can sign an online one without being aware of the cause', and that they won't influence such decisions, certainly not timewise.

However, if anyone with any concerns around these cuts were to write to their local councillors and ask them for their responses to these cuts, or/and write to their local paper to raise the profile of such cuts then it might help.

Charlotte, your post is excellent in terms of telling how it is for both sides, thank you. Calder Valley club had the local priest speak up for them in the Bridge Times, heres hoping the voice of reason (or of God) can stop these cuts

From James Baker

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

This issue is being discussed by the town council tomorrow. It's an open meeting if anyone wants to come along and say something about the issue. Town Councillors have received both a briefing not from the club and a letter from the Labour cabinet member Bob Metcalfe who has responsibility of this.

In this letter Cllr Metcalfe he says that the club had been running at a loss and they stated they would require an extra £44,000. Bob states this is a considerable amount of extra money for the council to find.

Cllr Metcalfe states that the Council had agreed to fund an extra payment of £7,333 to tied the club over the Christmas period. Subsequently the club wrote to the council stating they could not accept the payment unless the council agreed to the full amount of £44,000 and they would have to close by the end of January 2012.

Cllr Metcalfe then goes onto state that the council had agreed payments to keep them going and was open to continued negotiations with the club.

His position is clear that it is the club that has pulled out of negotiations.

Not having all the facts myself I couldn't tell you whose story is correct, but Bob's account is vastly different from the story of local sector 'cuts' that seems to have taken hold on this thread.

PS Calderdale's budget consultation starts next Monday be sure to let you views known about how important support for this sector is.

From Lizzie D

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

James I am quite surprised that you seem to have made you mind up about this based on Bob Metclalfe's statement, I would refer you to Father Gott's letter in this weeks HB Times for an alternative view.

However, i would also take issue with your comment "Bob's account is vastly different from the story of local sector 'cuts' that seems to have taken hold on this thread". You seem to be missing the point that this thread isn't just about CVC, but cuts across the voluntary sector which affect us all locally, and are you also suggesting that folk are exagerating? I think you need to listen to your community as well as Cllr Metclafe, who is after all in reality, the axeman.

From Jenny Shepherd

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Good idea Liz, re writing to Councillor. Done that now. Let's see what happens at the Council meeting.

From Dave M

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

I too have written to Cllr Metcalfe who has offered to provide me with further details regarding the CVC situation and I am waiting for these.

As our only elected representative (as far as I'm aware) who has commented on the subject I would be very interested to know the personal views of Cllr Baker. Is he in favour of protecting services for vulnerable people at any cost even if that means reducing management costs? If so is he of the opinion that there should be a local campaign of co-ordinated action requiring Calderdale Council to commit to protecting these services and ensuring that sufficient funding is available?

If such a campaign is necessary and viable then I would definitely play an active part in it.

Disability is something that may affect any of us in the future. If there is not a concerted effort to protect services for vulnerable people now then there may be nothing left in the future.

From Jonathan Timbers

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

At last night's Hebden Bridge Branch Labour Party meeting, Cllr Dave Young raised the question of cuts to CVC and indicated that he would push for Calderdale and the club to 'get round the table' and thrash out a deal. Cllr Sue Press also spoke out strongly in favour of securing funding for CVC.

I came to the meeting in high dudgeon about the cuts to CVC but left reassured that leading Labour party members in Hebden Bridge were committed to taking action in support of an organisation which promotes the independence of disabled people in the Calder Valley.

From David L

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Admirable as it is that our labour members want to support CVC can I ask what their stance is towards 'saving' other voluntary sector services such as advice services (also mentioned in this thread)? Groups such as CVC are only part of the proposed cuts our council are 'shutting down'.

From Cllr James Baker

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Lizzie I haven't made my mind up as to whose side of the story is true. I was putting across Cllr Metcalfe's view and statement which I had received. I see relaying such information and coming here to talk to you as part of the role of a town councillor.

Cllr Metcalfe is the Labour cabinet member responsible for the funding of the Calder Valley club. I do not think he is an axeman. I believe the Labour party is sincere in its support of the club.

Widespread support of the club is a view held amongst the local liberal democrats too. We had a meeting last week to discuss what could be done to help the club. One of our own councillors cares for a relative that uses the club, we are local resident's and this affects us too.

The town council met tonight and was unanimous in trying to support the club. We lack the financial funds to contribute but we will give what support we can.

Calderdale councillors from both the Liberal Democrats and Labour party that run calderdale are doing everything they can to keep the club going. I believe that talks about funding the extra money the club needs to run are starting up again.

Dave as you know I am not a Calderdale councillor however if I was on that council I would look at its management costs compared to the money that goes to adult social care.

Whilst I'm here could I also urge everyone to get involved in the Calderdale budget consultation and attend the public meeting on Thursday 19 January at Todmorden Town Hall, 6.30pm - 9.00pm. The more people that let their views known the more chance there is that such services can be protected.

From Lizzie D

Thursday, 12 January 2012

James, I appreciate your comments and do not doubt your own commitment to the battle for continuation of services for the elderly and disabled locally. So yes, like you, I see your role as a town councillor as one of fighting for this end of the valley. Sometimes though, we need to remember that services based in Halifax do also help us from up t'valley and fight for those too.

I know that Calderdale DART have a great team of home visiting officers who come to this end of the valley to help elderly and disabled people and those with cancer with all manner of things such as benefits and their rights. I have friends who speak highly of this service and know it would be missed. My Practise Nurse was telling me how good an agency DART are only last week. So thank you for your input, and I wish I had your faith in our borough council and its officers.

From John B

Friday, 13 January 2012

There is an interesting letter in the Courier of 13/01/12 which raises similar issues

From Paul D

Saturday, 14 January 2012

It must be particularly difficult for local political representatives to deal with this. On the one hand they appear to be wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth locally, as the abstract concept of 'austerity' becomes very real and decimates the lives of local people, on the other hand their respective party leaders conspire to continue a series of attacks on the public sector and through that the voluntary sector, stacking up further misery for millions.

James strikes a particularly Janus like pose, as one face appears to shows warmth and sympathy towards those suffering locally and the other must share a sort of snarl of support for Clegg; a man intent on cutting child benefit, conspiring with Cameron to cut workers' rights, legal aid and the like, Clegg who is simply a cipher for the neo-liberal project whose function, once exhausted, will leave his party decimated at the local and national level. A party of good honest people, distorted towards ends that one can only describe as amoral and unjust.

So we have yet more consultation, which simply to remind myself is all about which services to cut, not which to expand or restore, I shall call another 'con'. In this game the politicians play then CVC and DART are just the collateral damage. If either service continues it will likely be at the expense of another equally valuable service. In the world of James and his ilk, where there is no alternative to these cruel cuts, we must take care to keep check on those facing two ways, making sure when an election comes that we exact a price for their mendacity and that of their leaders.

We should ask just exactly whose side are these people on? Are they with the just and the needy or do they, like their leaders, side with the amoral and the greedy? They talk of deficit as if it's not rising under their stewardship, as if it's not bloated beyond comprehension by them bailing out the failed private sector banks. They have nothing to offer, not even hope, just more cuts, more blame and the further concentration of wealth in the hands of the elites. In the minds of these Cameron foils it was the nurses wot done in, the public that must pay, the deficit has nothing to do allocating hundreds of billions of pounds to support failed private companies (trillions globally), it's all our fault. The Lib Dems I feel are really vulnerable, they have limited time to jump of the austerity wagon, or ride with Cameron to their (not his) political oblivion. Locally they just look really stupid. They moan about the cinema loan and then try to take credit for taking the cinema into local hands. They moan about cuts to local services, but their leader plans more as they speak. Just whose side are they really on? How can anyone with an interest in DART or CVC even begin to have trust in those facing both ways?