£700,000 underspend questioned

Date published: 15 July 2014

A MOTION will be put forward at tomorrow’s full council meeting calling for action over the authority’s £700,000 underspend on crisis funds for the most vulnerable people in the community.

Liberal Democrat councillor Mark Alcock’s motion is also seeking to find out if the money has been spent elsewhere.

The authority was awarded £1,038,000 by the Government, yet in the last financial year only £294,038 was distributed to 2,379 people — around £123 per person.

The Government has announced that no further funding for this purpose will be provided after the current financial year.

Councillor Alcock said: “It’s being cut from next year because of a significant underspent by local authorities across the country. Some of the most vulnerable people need it. It’s wrong what the Government are doing, it would be far better if it was ringfenced and could only be used for the correct purpose.

“It could be spent anywhere so I have no idea where the rest has gone. If it hasn’t been spent then it could do another two years. But if there is none left I want to know what has happened to the remainder.

“It is a massive underspend and it could have just gone into the black hole never to be seen again. It will probably turn up in a statue on Union Street.

“Shaw baths only needed £50,000 and that would have helped a lot of people.

Councillor Abdul Jabbar, cabinet member for finance, said: “Since funding was transferred from the DWP to local authorities in April, we created a more practical and value for money approach.

“The DWP has also confirmed no funding will be available for councils for local welfare provision from 2015-16.”

“Unlike central government, we’re determined to support people who suffer an unexpected emergency or crisis. We offer help in the form of goods, services or vouchers rather than cash where possible.”

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