16th Feb, 2019

Disabled support charity's future uncertain after losing Solihull council funding

Felix Nobes 18th Jan, 2019 Updated: 18th Jan, 2019

A SUPPORT service which helps more than 1,700 disabled people in Solihull each year could be without a home or stable income after funding cuts.

As we exclusively reported, Citizens Advice Solihull Borough (CASB) has had its council funding to provide ‘Community Wellbeing’ services axed.

DIAL received funding as part of the long-standing CASB contract with the council – which has now been awarded to Age UK.

It means DIAL has also lost all its council funding – meaning it will only be able to provide a reduced service.

It amounts to almost all of its income – around £114,000.

It provides free information, advice and advocacy for disabled adults, children and their carers.

DIAL now has no funding sources and is seeking charitable donations to keep services available.

As with the CASB, DIAL will also be without a home when the current contract arrangements expire at the end of March.

DIAL was served an eviction notice by the council to vacate its fully accessible premises in The Parade, Kingshurst, by April 1.

Charity chiefs are currently in talks with the council to stay in its premises.

Its board and staff are also seeking to streamline the service in the short term while they look for alternative funding streams.

Bosses believe its plight has gone unnoticed and its proven importance to the borough’s vulnerable has been overlooked.

A spokesperson said: “Our organisation has worked with disabled people in this borough for over 30 years.

“During the last few years we have been responsible for hugely improving outcomes and achieving millions of pounds of benefits for disabled people in Solihull.

“Our clients are the most vulnerable in the borough, unable to complain or set up petitions.”

Chiefs say they provide expert and easily accessible debt and insolvency advice – including representation at tribunals.

They say it has provided 32,000 individual contacts in the last three years – which include telephone calls, appointments, drop-ins and home visits.

They also say they have had a 100 per cent success rate at tribunals, mainly concerning benefit claims.

The council’s impending new contractual arrangements with Age UK from April state it will “provide specialist information, advice and support for people presenting with a Long Term Condition (LTC) or disability enabling them to plan for the future and stay as healthy and independent as they can for as long as possible, enabling people to realise they have an important role in self-managing their condition and have the knowledge about factors affecting their condition and the skills and confidence to do so.”

Solihull Council insists the new provider, Age UK, will offer an improved service in the place of CASB and DIAL.

The new services, including for disabled people, will be on offer at the Advice Hub in the Core and Chelmsley Wood library.

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