Help for carers put at risk if Derby City Council cuts go ahead, warns boss of charity Age UK
CARERS will be less likely to receive the support they need if cuts to voluntary groups' funding go ahead as planned, the boss of a charity for the elderly has said.
Age UK provides a service which trains hospital and GP surgery staff to spot carers who may need help.
After referring them to Derbyshire Carers' Association, the organisation can then offer help with anything from benefits to providing specialist breaks and putting them in contact with support groups.
But Derby City Council is proposing to cut all of the annual £19,000 funding which Age UK receives to run the service, called Derby Carers Connect.
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It is part of the authority's plan to reduce its funding to voluntary groups which help vulnerable people from the current £1,010,374 a year to £476,874 by 2014-15.
The council says it needs to save £62 million over the next three years in the face of Government cuts.
Chief executive Katy Pugh said: "Derby Carers Connect has been successful in reaching out to carers who may not be aware of the services available or may not even have been aware they were carers.
"GPs will very rapidly forget about this (spotting carers) if they are not being supported and encouraged to do so because they are very busy and have a lot of different priorities to balance."
In total, five services provided by Age UK stand to lose some or all of their funding, including the charity's 50 Plus Centre, in the Eagle Centre, which hosts activities for the elderly.
A total of 31 services stand to lose between 17% and 100% of the funding they currently receive.
The council has said that most of the services affected are joint-funded with the NHS and that cash from the health service would, as it stands, keep coming.
But this may change depending upon the council's final funding recommendation.
Mrs Pugh said it was "disingenuous" for the council to mention the NHS funding.
She said: "It's not 50/50 funding. The council always puts more money into the pot.
"We could lose the money from the council and be left with an almost unusable sum of money from the NHS."
Councillor Fareed Hussain, cabinet member for adults and health, said most of the budget in the council's adult, health and housing department was taken up by residential and home-care services.
He said: "I'm not suggesting what we are doing is not going to compromise groups' ability to provide these services but I haven't got the money to give to them without putting frontline services at risk."