SOLIHULL Council has responded to calls for it to prevent the loss of a support service which helps more than 1,700 disabled people in Solihull.
Disabled charity DIAL received funding as part of the long-standing CASB contract with the council – which has now been awarded to Age UK instead.
It has now lost all its council funding – about £114,000 – and is faced with the threat of collapse.
It was also served an eviction notice by the council to vacate its fully accessible premises in The Parade, Kingshurst, by April 1.
After allegations it had overlooked DIAL’s importance – which came to the fore in a well attended public meeting as we reported on Tuesday – council chiefs have issued a statement.
It says the charity can make a ‘potential future contribution’ in the borough but the statement does not commit to helping prevent its demise.
Council officers including chief executive Nick Page were invited to attend the meeting and answer questions from service users – but they did not show up.
Charity chiefs said the council had offered to extend its stay at its premises rent free but would not grant any interim funding to DIAL to safeguard its future.
About 130 people – with all manner of disabilities – attended the public meeting to voice their concerns about the loss of DIAL and many were distressed service users who now also face an uncertain future.
A Solihull Council spokesperson said: “The council understands there was a public meeting about DIAL’s services, but it was not appropriate for the council to comment publicly on DIAL’s future plans at this stage, given DIAL will no longer have a contract with the council.
“The Council will continue to work with these organisations, including DIAL, about the type of support the Council can offer voluntary and community organisations in the future.
“Despite DIAL being unsuccessful and the existing Community Advice Hubs now taking over responsibility for providing the services DIAL previously was contracted to undertake, the Council recognises the past, and potential future contribution DIAL can make to the borough’s community and voluntary sector, alongside many other organisations.
“DIAL’s responsibility, as its contract with the Council draws to a close, is to ensure that anyone needing ongoing support after March can easily move across to the new provider for that support.
“Following the recent £3million procurement of community wellbeing services, reflecting the council’s ongoing commitment to supporting Solihull residents, a number of community and voluntary sector organisations have been awarded contracts.
“DIAL was unsuccessful and as a result their contract with the council ends shortly.
“Anyone who needs ongoing support can receive this from the new Community Advice Hubs from April 1 as part of the new arrangements.”
There are two advice hubs, one in Chelmsley Wood Library and the other in The Core.
Both are open Monday to Friday, between 10 and 4pm (early closing on Wednesday – 2pm Chelmsley Wood and 3pm The Core).
If people can’t get to the Hubs they can ring 0121 709 7590 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org