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Hampshire County Council cuts £680,000 in grants to social care groups

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HAMPSHIRE County Council has cut almost £700,000 of charitable grants to social care groups.

The cabinet member for adult services and public health, Cllr Liz Fairhurst, agreed to slash the £320,000 currently available for social care organisations, plus a further £360,000 for non-statutory homeless services, writes David George of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

It comes as HCC looks to make savings of £80m by April 2023 – a target that has already seen £22.6m cut from children’s services and £10.2m from the transport and environment budget, including £800,000 from community transport services.

Liz Fairhurst, Hampshire County Council cabinet member for adult services and public health
Liz Fairhurst, Hampshire County Council cabinet member for adult services and public health

The social care grants are split between neighbourhood care, community support and rural connection services. They are dished out to voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations across Hampshire.

Cllr Fairhurst said: "Nobody wants to make budget cuts, but were left with no choice.

"We have to provide a balanced budget by April 2023, while also fulfilling our obligation to deliver services.

"These measures aren’t ones we would like to take but we felt there was no other option."

MHA, a charity that provides services for elderly residents across Hampshire, has already voiced concerns about the impact this grant cut will have on the work it does.

The organisation previously told the county council that the services are "vital" for the 2,300 Hampshire residents they support.

Following the decision, MHA director of communities Jonathan Mace said: "We are very disappointed that Hampshire County Council has taken the decision to cut community grants from next year despite their consultation showing 97% of respondents disagreed with the proposal to stop the funding.

"This is a decision which will have far reaching consequences for older people who are supported by our MHA Communities schemes in Hampshire, along with the other affected community groups.

"Our work goes beyond just making sure we help alleviate loneliness and isolation among older people. It helps improve the health of our members, keeping them healthier for longer and ultimately reducing the burden on the NHS and their services."

The recommendations came after a six-week public consultation, and scrutiny from HCC’s cross-party health and social care select committee.

HCC insisted it will help charitable organisations to find funding from elsewhere.

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