Bath charities fear 'shortsighted' funding cuts will put vulnerable people at risk

ITV News' Richard Payne spoke to charities about what these cuts could mean for them.

Charities supporting some of the most vulnerable people in Bath say they are worried about what future support they will be able to provide following proposed cuts to the funding they receive.Bath & North East Somerset Council says it will try to ease the impact of more than £800,000 worth of cuts to “community support contracts” by spreading them over two years rather than one.

ITV News West Country has been told less money could, ultimately, put lives at risk if some organisations do not get the money needed for early intervention which can prevent more costly care later on.

The cuts were first proposed in December 2023 and we heard from one charity earlier this year, about how any reduction in funding could affect vulnerable people.

Youth Connect South West, based in Bath, receives £500,000 a year from BANES Council but says it is yet to discover what future funding it will receive despite the council already setting its budget.

CEO Tracey Pike said: "We offer a really invaluable service to young people through our early help provision and it's frightening to think there's going to be less available when already demand is over subscribed.

"If we get less, we'll be working with fewer young people and offering fewer services in fewer areas so it will be really challenging for everybody."

The concerns are shared by Julian House which looks after hundreds of homeless people every year, either through their emergency accommodation hostel or temporary accommodation in the community as well as with outreach workers on the streets.

Chief Executive Helen Bedser said the charity has suffered a funding gap of £150,000 for each of the last five years and argues more money is needed as demand rises."Obviously the council is in a really difficult position trying to balance its books, but this feels quite shortsighted because it will result in increasing homelessness, increasing rough sleeping which will have a knock-on impact on adult social care, housing and the human impact. It will put lives at risk," she said.

Michael Dixon has used the Julian House hostel for four months and says it saves lives.

"I think there would be a lot more fatalities on the streets with homeless people if this place wasn't here.

"When they talk about cuts to budgets it's a big worry, not knowing who it's going to affect, but ultimately the people who end up paying are vulnerable people," he said.

The council is seeking to plug a £24.5 million funding gap and says it will take a "full review with our third sector partners, of all community contracts".

Councillor Mark Elliott, cabinet member for Resources added: “Until that review is undertaken we don’t want to dictate specific savings to specific organisations. We spend more than £9m on more than 40 contracts in the third sector.

"We think it’s reasonable to expect there is some duplication and inefficiency across those contracts and we believe our proposed savings are reasonable over two years, but we will be working closely with our third sector partners to identify those savings with them.”