2nd August – 25th October 2012.
In February 2012 a Newham resident brought a claim against Newham Council for its decision on 17th November 2011 to cease funding voluntary sector advice services in the borough and to replace it with an in-house system.
On 1st June 2012 the judge held that it appeared on the 17th November that the Council had ruled out providing funding to voluntary sector organisations for advice services. However, in light of this court case, Newham had effectively withdrawn that decision and assured the court that they would now consider whether to involve the voluntary sector – the judge made it clear that before the Council makes a final decision, they had to consult properly.
That consultation was launched on the 2nd August and will run until the 25th October 2012.
Residents and anyone who might be affected by the changes are welcome to take part in the consultation. It is important that voluntary sector organisations in the borough and their service users have their say about the future of advice provision in Newham.
What the council needs to know about advice in the borough
The main aim of the campaign was to make Newham Council understand the difference between advice provided by council officers and advice provided by independent voluntary sector organisations – and why council funding for the latter is so important.
1. That many disputes involving housing, debt or welfare benefits are disputes with the council – and without access to independent advice many members of the public may not seek any advice at all, even though the failure to seek advice often makes problems much harder and more expensive to resolve later on.
2. That there are many groups of people who would seek advice from community based voluntary sector agencies, but who would be reluctant to seek advice from a council officer.
3. The importance of face-to-face advice as opposed to web-based services, and the difficulties if face-to-face advice is only provided from one location (i.e. the Council’s East Ham offices).
4. The problems with the Council’s proposed eligibility criteria for the tier 3 service, namely: (a) resident in the borough for over 2 years; (b) by referral only; (c) cannot access the tier 3 advice service more than once.
How to take part
request a paper version of the questionnaire at any local service centre or library.
Concern over restricted access to paper copies
We have recently attempted to collect copies of the questionnaire from two local libraries and were concerned to discover that paper copies are not readily available for the public. One of the key arguments of the campaign is that a significant number of Newham residents do not have access to the internet or the ability to easily navigate online council services. We therefore strongly urge you to encourage your service users to go into their local libraries and ask for hard copies of the questionnaire. Alternatively, you can contact the Council and ask them to send copies to your offices so that you can distribute them.
Have your say and save independent advice in Newham!
If you would like to discuss please contact Laura on
0207 511 7343 or firstname.lastname@example.org