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Fair Frome appeals against county council budget cuts

FAIR Frome has expressed its concerns to Somerset County Council regarding proposed budget cuts that could impact families in Frome already in crisis.

At this week’s cabinet meeting, on Tuesday 11th September and Wednesday 12th September, councillors will consider money-saving proposals amounting to £28million. If approved, services such as support for young carers, citizen advice bureaus, youth services and adult services face funding cuts.

In response, the trustees of Fair Frome have appealed to the leader of the county council, cllr David Fothergill, to consider the impact the funding cuts will have. 

Speaking on behalf of the trustees of Fair Frome, chair Bob Ashford said, “We want to express our real concerns at the impact the proposed cuts to adult and children’s services will have on families in Frome. Whilst we are aware of the difficult financial situation the council finds itself in, we would ask that you and your fellow councillors look at reprioritising any potential budget reductions away from those who are already in crisis.

“Fair Frome is a local charity which has no political affiliation. We work in partnership with those organisations in Frome (statutory and voluntary) who already work with disadvantaged families to identify need and provide practical support where we can. To this end we already run the local Food and Furniture Banks and run Community Lunches, ‘Holiday Hunger’ and other programmes. 

“Whilst Frome appears relatively affluent, I am sure you are aware that two areas in Frome are already in the bottom 20% most deprived areas of the country as measured by Her Majesty’s Government deprivation indices. From the take up of our services, it is obvious that this situation has further deteriorated with the introduction of Universal Credit and the already substantial reductions in Sure Start and other targeted services for children and families in the area. 

“This, combined with substantial rises in accommodation rental prices and house prices, has led to a “perfect storm” which is driving even more local families into poverty.

“We are thus concerned that the proposed cuts and reviews in expenditure for early years, youth services and youth offending services, as well as those for children and adults with disabilities and young carers, will have a further calamitous impact. 

“We work very closely, for instance, with the local Mendip Citizens Advice Bureau, relying on them to advise families in crisis and refer on to us for practical support. For many of the individuals and families they see, they provide a real lifeline and enable them to get back to financial stability which benefits the whole community. We know that these proposed reductions will mean that they will lose £98,000 from next year’s funding – a cut of 21% from their overall funding, which will inevitably result in some loss of paid staff and service availability for clients.

“As I said, we do recognise the difficulties you face as elected members in trying to balance a forever reducing budget, but ask you to do all within your power when the Scrutiny Panel and Cabinet meet on the 11th and 12th September respectively to mitigate the impact on the most vulnerable in our local communities.”

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