Please see today’s article in the Pink Paper illustrating our funding cuts and warning this will soon be nationwide, a very worrying time for all. Link to the article here; http://news.pinkpaper.com/NewsStory/7616/6/08/2012/council-cuts-hiv-and-aids-funding-to-prop-up-other-services-says-campaigner.aspx
Please write to your MP to complain, protect your local services, soon this will be affecting everyone, and not just those living with HIV. Soon any service that is not a vote winner will most likley be facing cuts when funding moves to local authorities next April. Don’t let that happen, complain now !
For those unable to access the Pink Paper article please see below;
Council cuts HIV and Aids funding to ‘prop up other services’ says campaigner
Funding allocated for Aids and HIV support is being diverted to other services, claim the supporters of the threatened Crescent centre in St Albans, Herts.
Harriet P Evans
Hertfordshire County Council has been accused of making cuts from HIV and Aids support funding to put into other areas of social care. But the situation is unlikely to be unique.
An independent review by the National Aids Trust in 2009 highlighted the importance of the Aids Support Grant made by the government to local authorities to fund local services. NAT warned that services may be threatened unless the ASG was “ring-fenced”, preventing the money from being diverted into other services.
The ASG is set to increase year-on year for the next two years, following a campaign led by NAT in 2010 to ensure sufficient resources.
However, June 2010 saw the removal of ASG ring-fencing, effectively ending the requirement that this money only had to be spent on HIV social care. A report by NAT earlier this year showed that that number of local councils spending all the money allocated for HIV and AIDS support directly on social care for people with Aids and HIV had dropped from 86% in 2008, to 61% following across-the-board cuts to health services. The Crescent’s Project Manager Iain Murtagh says he believes the removal of ring-fencing is allowing money to be taken away from supporting the needs of people living with HIV: “Using the money that the NAT fought to increase, [the council] is now taking that money to prop up other services.”
In a Hertfordshire County Council meeting on 17 July, Executive Panel Member Cllr C B Wyatt-Lowe responded to a question about the situation of HIV and AIDS support funding in the county: “We cannot afford to fund multiple charities to provide the same service as this would mean decreasing the amount we spend in other vital areas, such as support for people with learning difficulties, people with dementia, and recovery services for people with mental health problems – all residents equally as vulnerable as those suffering with HIV.”
The situation in Hertfordshire is a local reflection of a national problem, according to Mr Murtagh: “We are, effectively, a litmus test for what will happen next year when things move to public health. Political influence will mean unpopular services will be cut if it is felt to be a vote loser, or to preserve services that are more ‘acceptable’. This will mean those living with all sorts of issues will be at risk.”
The Crescent in Hertfordshire was told in January 2011 that their contract would not be renewed in spite of an earlier agreement that if the centre could make savings on its spending, it would be funded.
The Crescent has had no funding since June, and is currently surviving thanks to its volunteers. Fundraising efforts have been backed by gay actor and former St Albans resident John Sessions. Despite this, the centre is still struggling.
Mr Murtagh said: “We are in a terrible situation. The 300 people we support will effectively have nowhere to go if we close.”
The contract for Aids and HIV support in Hertfordshire has been awarded to Herts Aid in Ware, east Hertfordshire. But in a large county, with public transport issues affecting movement between distant town centres, Mr Murtagh is concerned that the Crescent’s clients will be disadvantaged by the shift in resources: “The west has the majority of people living with HIV, and it has the poorest transport.”
The Crescent continues to fight its closure and challenge the council on its decision withdraw its funding.
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The Crescent Team