Brent Council fails to spend £1.3m government funding for vulnerable people...while planning to close day care centre
PUBLISHED: 07:00 28 January 2015 | UPDATED: 11:22 28 January 2015
Copyright: Mr. Jan Nevill
Brent Council is sitting on £1.3million of government funding for vulnerable people while disabled campaigners fight desperately to save the borough’s only multi care day centre from closure.
The New Millennium Day Centre (NMDC) in Robson Avenue, Willesden, which offers assistance to users with physical and learn disabilities, is likely to have all its funding slashed as council bosses set out to make £54m in cuts.
But £1.7m of non ring-fenced government funding to help vulnerable people in the community has gone largely unspent.
Cllr John Warren, leader of Brondesbury Park Conservatives, said: “If find it disgraceful that Cllr Butt (leader of Brent Council) is always banging on about not having any money from the government and when he does get some money he doesn’t spend it.”
Under the council’s local welfare allowance, which is aimed to help those in short term need, support vulnerable people and ease financial pressure on families, the forecast expenditure for the two years is £450,000 with more than £1.3m remaining.
Sandra Duke, chair of the New Millennium Committee, said: “It’s absolutely disgraceful and yet they want to close us down when they have all that money. It’s despicable. That could keep us open at least another 10 years if not 15.”
The council plans to redirect services for NMDC users and use the building to generate money.
Brent Council controversially closed Stonebridge Day Centre, in Twybridge Road, in 2011 to make way for a primary school expansion. Two years later it closed Strathcona Day Centre, in Strathcona Road, Wembley, later used for housing.
Many services users were moved to NMDC, the only multi-health service of its kind left in the borough.
Cllr Butt said: “The local welfare assistance scheme has two remits - crisis payments and community payments. The scheme will receive no funding from the government from April this year so we are using the underspend to maintain the scheme for its original purpose. These are important payments for vulnerable people at a difficult time in their lives.”
He added: “If the closure of the centre is agreed in the March budget-setting process, we will then carry out a period of statutory consultation.
“If it is closed, we will review all of the service users’ needs on an individual basis and work with them and their advocates to find alternatives to meet their needs.”
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