good for bristol

Friday, 11 January 2013

George Ferguson's budget proposals

When I met our new Mayor on Christmas Day in the queue for food at the nightshelter I asked him who's in charge - him or the council?

Bristolians have elected a Council to run our city.  Now we've also elected a Mayor to run our city.  It turns out the Mayor proposes the annual budget but the Council signs it off - or not.  To my mind that puts the Council in charge while introducing possibilities of endless deadlock, of course.

Looking at the Mayor's budget proposals he's suggesting a swinging £812,000 cut in Supporting People (link).  This is the money that funds services for homeless people and housing-related support for people with mental health problems, addictions, learning disabilities, elderly people and so on.  The most vulnerable people in the City.

This follows £1.3 million cuts in the Supporting People budget in the current financial year (pdf page 27).
The total Supporting People budget is about £26 million but it's getting cut and cut and cut.  As a result we're seeing more people living on the streets with mental health, drink and drug problems.  Last time this happened - in the late 1980s and early 1990s - there was a big push through the Rough Sleeper Initiative to provide housing with support so the very damaged people living on the streets could manage.  This funding was all transfered to the Supporting People budget in 2004 and is now being cut.

Ever wondered where the crusties in the Bear Pit went?  Half-a-dozen very specialist schemes were built  to house them, mostly over in Fishponds.  Wondering why the crusties are gradually coming in Stokes Croft?  These schemes are having their funding cut.

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