CROYDON IN CRISIS: MP says the latest round of funding cuts to services delivered by mental health charity are ‘devastating’. By STEVEN DOWNES
Mind in Croydon is to close two of its support services for people living with complex, long-term mental health conditions, after Croydon Council cut the services’ funding.
The Employment Support Service, which has provided one-to-one support and guidance for people in the borough for nearly 20 years, has had its funding completely withdrawn after a review of Adult Social Care contracts by the council. The Employment Support Service helped their final client last week.
The specialist Welfare Benefits Advice and Casework Service has also been cut, though some limited services will continue until next March, after Mind in Croydon trustees stepped in to provide funding from the charity to support people already using the service and who are waiting for dates for welfare benefits appeals to be heard.
People directly affected by the closures have already been contacted and are being supported to find other sources of help and advice.
The council cuts are part of the 2022-2023 budget approved at the Town Hall in March this year by the then Labour-led administration. After £44.7million-worth of cuts in 2021-2022, a further £38.4milion was sliced from the council’s spending in this financial year, following the authority’s financial collapse in 2020.
The funding being cut by the council amounts to £380,907 per annum across the Mind in Croydon services.
Mind in Croydon and other providers had tendered to the council and were awarded one-year contracts as recently as May 2021, with an option for a 12-month extension until April 2023. The council had already reduced the number of contracts it was offering in this area of support from seven to four, thereby cutting the contract value by £200,000.
Through its Welfare Benefits service, Mind in Croydon was able to support 1,200 people every year – with around 120 accompanied to tribunals to ensure the right information is heard by the tribunal and a fair outcome is achieved. Mind in Croydon reckon that they delivered around £1.5million of additional or previously unclaimed cash benefits to residents in Croydon every year.
“This money helps to pay council tax and other bills and not only circulates in the Croydon economy but helps people to remain mentally well, reducing costs elsewhere in the health and social care system,” according to a source.
“Our voluntary sector in Croydon is at the forefront of the fight against poverty and the impact of the cost-of-living crisis,” said Sarah Jones, the Labour MP for Croydon Central.
“Mind in Croydon is a fantastic local charity doing great work to support people with mental health problems.
“It’s devasting to hear of these closures, especially at a time like this when cost of living increases are squeezing household budgets hard. These support services will be even more needed. Our advice and information services in the borough are at risk of being overwhelmed with people needing help and support.”
Philippa Mariani, the chief executive of Mind in Croydon, said, “We are very sad to no longer have the funding to support people looking for work, or to return to work, and with their welfare rights and benefits.
“Our services have supported many thousands of people over the years and enabled people to regain confidence, health and independence. This is a real blow especially as we were awarded the contract only last year, working with our partners Croydon Mencap to enhance the support that we could offer people with learning disabilities and autism.
“The council has been very clear with us that this decision is regretted and does not reflect at all on the quality of the services we provide.
“We have looked at alternative solutions to closure but without the council funding, our services can’t be sustained. It’s great that our board of trustees has stepped in to ensure that we don’t leave people already getting support with complex welfare benefits tribunal cases in the lurch, but with the impact of covid on our public fundraising over the last two years, this can be for a limited time only.”
- People looking for help with their mental health should contact the Croydon Health and Wellbeing Space at the Whitgift Centre or phone 020 3154 9539
Read more: Further £38.4m to be sliced from next year’s council budget
Read more: Councillors were warned of financial crisis months in advance
Read more: Council forced to declare itself bankrupt
Read more: ‘Mistakes will be made’ warn staff after latest round of cuts
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