Local disability advice service at risk of closure after health partners pull funding
Brighton and Hove charity Possability People may be forced to close the only specialist disability advice centre in the city after local health authorities announced a sudden cut in funding for the service.
The decision, which has provoked widespread condemnation from local organisations and service users, was first communicated to Possability People in a joint letter signed by both Brighton and Hove City Council and health partners the Clinical Commissioning Group. The letter gave Possability People just three weeks’ notice of the termination of funding, and states that “Brighton and Hove City Council understands the decision made by the CCG.”
The charity and its supporters organised a protest outside a meeting of Full Council today [28th March]. Greens say that news of the protest prompted the Labour group to issue a statement for submission to the CCG, which they called on fellow Councillors to sign. However Green Councillors have slammed the Labour Council for attempting to ‘create distance’ from the decision despite their critical role as health partners to the CCG, labelling the last-minute statement as ‘too little, too late.’ Expressing their support for Possability People, Greens say the Labour Council must do everything possible to mitigate and reverse the damaging cut.
Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty said:
“There has been an attempt to distance the Labour Council from this decision, but the council can’t claim it’s not involved- it has co-signed the letter that went to Possability People decimating their funding. Council Leader Dan Yates left the charity waiting for a response to their concerns. The city council under Labour’s leadership only gave three weeks of notice that this desperately needed funding is running out. This isn’t the way to treat a charity helping some of our most marginalised residents. There’s no consultation or right to appeal on that either.
“It’s absolutely damning that the Labour leadership has remained silent on this issue until it was facing a public protest at today’s council meeting. This is not the first time a short-sighted funding decision has hit some of our most vulnerable – the council moved to stop the Low Vision Service from closure after CCG cuts, for example.
“The Labour administration should be looking for every possible opportunity to support this vital service and get the CCG to reverse this decision. While today’s sudden statement from Labour to health authorities is welcome, Labour’s starting point in this discussion – that they ‘understand the position of the CCG,’ rather than condemn or reject it – has contributed to this poor outcome. Greens including MP Caroline Lucas have been working behind the scenes to support the organisation and push for action and will continue to do so.”
Cllr Pete West, Green spokesperson for Neighbourhoods, Inclusion, Communities and Equalities, added:
“We absolutely reject the CCG’s assertion that these services are provided elsewhere – Possability People has been running the advice work for 30 years and they are the city’s only specialist disability advice service. Greens fully support this much-needed organisation. In the past year alone this charity dealt with over 4,500 enquiries and demand is rising.
“This Labour Council needs to acknowledge their leadership role and act urgently to explore all options for funding and support for Possability People. The funding runs out in a matter of days and unfortunately, despite today’s last minute statement, drawn up by Labour Councillors spooked by protests – we remain concerned that this sudden statement says too little, too late.”–
 Possability People: https://www.possabilitypeople.org.uk/2019/03/26/shock-funding-decision-closes-advice-centre-for-disabled-people/
 The Argus: Council step in to save Low Vision Clinic after it loses funding: https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/16051323.council-step-in-to-save-clinic-for-visually-impaired-after-it-loses-funding/