Northern charities strive to maintain services

By Jonathan Kalmus, November 4, 2010
The Federation of Jewish Services has said around 20 per cent of its annual budget is at risk of cuts

The Federation of Jewish Services has said around 20 per cent of its annual budget is at risk of cuts

Welfare charities in Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow are making contingency plans to cope with public funding cuts due to be announced by local authorities within weeks.

Manchester's largest welfare charity, the Federation of Jewish Services, said around 20 per cent of its annual budget is at risk of cuts by four Greater Manchester councils. But the fallout could range from just £20,000 to £100,000 a year with the final figure only becoming clear in December, when many of its care contracts are to be reviewed by local authorities.

FJS community services director Mark Cunningham said "every available avenue" was being explored to secure all its services. "We don't want to reduce levels of support for people. The bottom line is more people are going to be coming to use our services.

"I can't guarantee we won't cut services, but it is the least palatable option. A £20,000 hit is a storm we've got the capacity to ride out, but above that it will get harder to take on the chin."

This week the charity said it received positive indications from Trafford Council after meeting to lobby for continuing funding for its south Manchester volunteer services. But other councils could hit FJS' volunteer, child disability and home services for the elderly because they are not considered front-line care.

"A stay in hospital can cost £800-£900 a night. So providing grants at a local level for homecare visits, which can spot a health problem before someone needs to go to hospital, can save a lot of money in the long run. We are arguing that it's a false economy not have those measures," added Mr Cunningham.

In Leeds, the city council has been conducting reviews of the Jewish Welfare Board's services. On Monday the charity joined other major voluntary organisations to quiz council chiefs over cuts.

Jewish Welfare Board president Edward Ziff said the charity was preparing for a council squeeze on over £100,000 of public funding it offers the charity annually. He said services would be protected by increasing the amount community members paid for care services for those who could afford it.

But the greatest welfare upheaval could come for Jewish Care Scotland which is expecting "challenging times" ahead of the Scottish government's budget to decide whether to continue its £312m of free personal and nursing care for the elderly every year.

The Glasgow charity said it was placing "an ever increasing importance" on communal donations. Chief executive Suzanne Neville said donations were being generated from increasingly innovative fundraising activities like its planned heritage walk in Latvia and Lithuania next year. She said this year's annual appeal target of £70,000 is needed in order to maintain its level of services to the most vulnerable people in the Jewish community.

"In Scotland free care for the elderly has been identified as something that may not be affordable in the longer term and the Board of Jewish Care Scotland is keeping abreast of all the issues and debates in the media. Our priority is to maintain our services to Jewish people in Scotland who need them."

Last updated: 3:32pm, January 5 2011