Local health chiefs to withdraw Disability Advice Centre funding
A decision by local health chiefs to withdraw funding from the city’s only specialist disability advice centre will not be overturned, despite pressure from members of the council’s health scrutiny committee.
Brighton and Hove charity Possability People were given notice in April that local health authority the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) would no longer fund the charity’s disability advice centre, a move that left the service at risk of immediate closure. The decision was condemned at the time by Green Councillors and users of the charity’s services, who claimed that the CCG failed to properly consult service users during their impact assessment.
The news that the CCG’s decision will not be overturned has left councillors like the Green Party’s Lizzie Deane extremely concerned about the impact that the likely closure of the centre would have on Brighton’s disabled community:
We find the CCG’s decision hugely disappointing, in view of the large numbers of the most vulnerable people who have been helped over the years by the Disability Advice Centre (DAC). The centre handled 4,468 enquiries in 2018 alone – including support around welfare entitlements, food banks, accessing housing and receiving care.
Members of all political parties were clear that services like those provided by the DAC help people to manage their physical, mental and emotional health care needs. These preventative services have tremendous value – not only in terms of supporting people, but also in terms of cost-savings to the NHS.
In response to Councillor Deane’s concerns, the CCG’s clinical chair Dr David Supple suggested that ‘there are a variety of services in the city, and nationally, which could provide support and advice to people seeking help with benefits,’ despite acknowledging that the CCG ‘did not contact these organisations to assess their capacity.’