Gordon has written to the Tory-led Government to express concerns at the alarming news that Blackpool could lose almost a million pounds of vital funding that supports vulnerable people across the town.
Calculations from The Children’s Society show that Blackpool Council could be starved of £941,805 worth of funding for Local Welfare Provision – this is enough to support 7,595 households in the town.
In his letter to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP, Gordon explained: “'Blackpool, as you know and as you and I have discussed in the past is an area with some pockets of extremely pronounced deprivation and a number of families and vulnerable residents in serious need would suffer if these local welfare schemes were no longer provided.”
Gordon said that social problems of course impacted on friends, family members and neighbours, but a failure to provide solutions to the problems local people could report to the council could also have a wider impact on the wider community in Blackpool.
He added: “This issue has been one of particular urgency and something I and my office are seeing sadly on an all too regular basis in Blackpool, and in last weekend’s Observer newspaper, national research by economists at the London School of Economics and the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex confirmed that under this Government it is the vulnerable that are being hit the hardest.”
Under the consultation from the Department for Communities and Local Government, the loss of funding for local welfare provision could be made up by adding it to the revenue grant that Blackpool Council receives from the Government. However Gordon said that having a dedicated funding stream from Central Government that supported the vulnerable performed several functions and outlined the advantages to it.
Gordon said: “Having a dedicated funding stream in place signalled how these vulnerable groups of people should be prioritised in society, but also gave accountability, allowing local people to see how much money was being put aside for those most in need.
“Research by the Local Government Agency also suggests that a significant number of local authorities would have to end or scale back schemes for the vulnerable if funding for local welfare was removed. With Blackpool being one of the areas hardest hit by damaging Tory cuts, a dedicated funding stream for vulnerable people ensured that the town received a fair deal.”
In 2015/16, Blackpool Council is expected to have a 13% reduction in its core funding, and Gordon commented that councils such as Blackpool could not be blamed for assuming that the level of revenue grant had already been decided upon, regardless of whether local welfare provision had been added to the equation.
He added: “Local welfare services provide basic essentials for the most vulnerable people and their families.
“We are lucky that in Blackpool our Labour council responded conscientiously to the end of the Social Fund and Community Care Grants, and to the removal of the ringfence on local welfare spending.
“Blackpool Council has successfully implemented targeted financial support and long-term care solutions, but many local authorities will not have done so.”
In the context of this Government’s unfair and cruel changes to welfare and the treatment of people on benefits, Gordon said this was another example of “short-sighted cost cutting and disregard for the interests of vulnerable people”.
With the Autumn Statement to be announced in the next few weeks, Gordon added: “This is the last chance for the Government to give Blackpool a fairer deal and avert the dangerous attack on the safety net which supports many of my most vulnerable constituents.”