Jewish charities struggle on funds

Communal welfare organisations are facing a further squeeze on their funding from local authorities, increasing the pressure to raise more from donors to maintain services.

Jewish Care chairman Stephen Zimmerman told a breakfast meeting of its business group this week that the charity was still battling with Barnet Council over funding.

“This year Jewish Care is currently not going to receive any increase in the amount given by our largest local authority and we are even fighting to achieve the status quo.”

Chief executive Simon Morris explained afterwards that around three-quarters of residents in Jewish Care homes are partly funded by local authorities. But the gap between the cost of a service and what local authorities are prepared to pay “unfortunately widens every year. Jewish Care works hard to negotiate annually with local authorities to try and secure increases in the amount they will pay for an individual’s care. But, not surprisingly, we are struggling to do so in this very tough economic environment.”

Leon Smith, chief executive of the Nightingale home for the elderly in south London, said that, on average, local authorities met only 60 per cent of the cost of caring for those eligible for council support. “The true value of local authority support for our residents is gradually being eroded in real terms.”

Some councils were already warning that there would be no rise for inflation in contributions for a second year. “If the true value of local authority funding does not go up year on year, in effect a higher proportion of our income needs to be found from voluntary sources.”

Mr Smith added that in many cases local authorites preferred to support people in their homes rather than in residential care. A person living in a tenement building in a poor part of London, or “dying of loneliness or lack of stimulation” might desperately want a Nightingale place. “But the local authority may deem it that because they can still carry out certain personal functions for themselves at home, they would not be eligible for local authority support.”  

Norwood chief executive Norma Brier said councils were seeking to reduce the cost of many areas of social care because of the economic slowdown. “This includes the fees paid for services they buy from Norwood for adults with learning disabilities.”

A Barnet spokesman said the contribution to Jewish Care “reflects the challenges facing local authorities and providers across the country. Our increase in adult social care funding in the current year has been absorbed by demographic change. With more people living longer with more complex needs, the funding of support for older people and other adults is a major issue for society to debate.”

Jewish Care, Nightingale and Norwood had a combined income of more than £106 million according to their last available accounts, of which nearly £41 million came from donations. The rest was mainly from council contributions or fees paid by residents.

    Last updated: 3:32pm, January 5 2011