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  1. ITV Report

Disability advice centre in Brighton says cuts are affecting its services

Possability People received a Queen's Award for its work two years ago Photo:

An advice centre for disabled people in Brighton, says it has had to scale back its services, after its funding was cut with three weeks notice.

Possability People helps thousands each year. They say many of their service users have had to challenge incorrect disability benefit decisions.

Staff assist 4,500 people, helping them to find foodbanks and to contest issues concerning their disability benefits.

The advice centre helps people contest issues relating to disability benefits

Two years ago, the charity won a Queen's Award for the work it does with people living with disabilities in Brighton.

Staff at the centre, which has been running 30 years, say it's now facing an 85% cut in its funding.

Officials say it's now only able to advise its clients over the telephone when many require face-to-face help.

"What we find with people, if they don't get the help and support they need, they do start feeling very, very unwell. When you think this is about their lives, if they don't get the money they're entitled to, it drives them into poverty."

– Geraldine Des Moulins - Possability People

Possability People say they have been reduced to functioning as a limited telephone service for individuals, some of whom struggle to communicate.

Over 80% of the queries the advice centre receives are about benefits. Its users believe they are losing a "vital service".

"I've got through fairly complex situations with their help, which without that, there wouldn't be those situations solved. There is no other service within the city that's like this for disabled people."

– Peter Alderton - Service User

Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), who part fund the service, told ITV Meridian the following:

"Across the NHS there are more and more people who need to use health services, and the funding available to pay for them cannot keep up with the increase in demand.

"This means we have to focus funding on supporting services which have been proven to have the most impact on people's health, and that are not already provided in the community."

Possability Now has been working with people living with a disability for 30 years

Brighton MP Caroline Lucas says she believes the Group's response has been "short-sighted".

"I believe the CCG's response on this has been really short-sighted frankly. If people can't get advice when they need it then they're going to end up needing wider health support later on. In the great scheme of things this £30,000 really is a drop in the ocean and it seems to me that the CCG ought to look at this again. I think they've underestimated the impact of these cuts."

– Caroline Lucas MP, Green Party
  • Watch Andy Dickenson's report here.