MP questions council cuts for welfare

By Jonathan Kalmus, March 25, 2011

Labour MP Luciana Berger has suggested that Liverpool City Council may have infringed race relations law by slashing its funding to the city's main Jewish charity.

In January, Merseyside Jewish Community Care lost its £20,000 annual local authority grant towards kosher meals for vulnerable Jews. Now it is to lose its other council contribution, a £9,000 grant for respite for carers.

In a letter to the council chief executive also signed by Merseyside Jewish Representative Council president Gordon Globe and MJCC chief executive Lisa Dolan, Ms Berger has requested a review of civic support for Liverpool Jewry.

The charity argues that "vulnerable and elderly Jewish people in Liverpool have placed very few demands on the city's resources in previous years. But the total removal of kosher meals means that the council may be failing its duties under the Race Relations Amendment Act of 2000, which seeks to ensure that no ethnic or minority group is discriminated against."

MJCC aims to continue providing 7,000 kosher meals annually to elderly residents with poor health or low income and people with mental or physical disabilities. Meals had been funded by the council for 20 years and the withdrawal of the money has forced the charity to cut one post from its kitchen staff.

Ms Dolan said: "The Jewish community is concerned that its disadvantaged, disabled and elderly may be being treated differently to other communities.

"Liverpool has an ageing Jewish community and our carers suffer isolation, stress, and health problems. They need access to a range of support. MJCC can provide that support but needs resources to fund this vital service."

A council representative said: "We have to find £91 million savings over the year so we've had to make some difficult decisions. No area of council funding has been unaffected. We wouldn't have been able to present a balanced budget without doing that, but we are working with affected organisations to try to find alternative sources of funding."

Last updated: 10:33am, March 25 2011