GOVERNMENT cuts to local councils are threatening the ‘social glue’ that binds communities together – and will end up driving up care and benefit costs, Green Euro-MP Jean Lambert said after a visit to an advice centre for older people in Walthamstow.
Cuts to local councils across the capital are leading to a reduction in grant funding for voluntary organisations – and that in turn is causing them to spend less time providing care services in the community, and more time chasing new sources of funding to try to maintain services, the London MEP said.
At the same time, cuts to benefits, especially for carers, are driving many community activists to give up voluntary work entirely as they are forced either into paid employment into providing care for themselves, or family members, that has become simply too expensive – or that have been withdrawn entirely.
“Cuts to local councils are forcing services provided by the voluntary sector to close, and eating away at the social glue that holds many communities together,” Ms Lambert said.
“As my recent report to the European Parliament – Care in a Time of Crisis – shows, we are in a time of increasing need, and now is exactly the moment when the Government should be investing more in the voluntary sector rather than cutting off its lifeblood.
“Waltham Forest Age-UK is a classic case of an organisation facing increasing uncertainty over funding and fewer people able to volunteer their time – it’s bound to lead to an increased burden on public sector care and benefit systems, and is entirely counter-productive.”
“These cuts are a false economy – and the Government must re-think its entire approach to the way local and voluntary services are funded to make sure it doesn’t damage local communities – and end up costing the exchequer an awful lot of money,” she added.