David Cameron's new Conservatives make a big deal about the role of the voluntary sector in supporting strong communities.
But clearly the Tories in Hammersmith & Fulham don't agree. They have just launched a savage programme of cuts in funding to local voluntary organisations.
The council's cabinet is due to vote on the proposals on 16 April and they are bound to face huge protests against these latest cuts. One major area of cuts is in legal advice.
The council proposes a cut of nearly £160,000 in the Law Centre’s funding, a cut of over 60%. Threshold is to be cut by 23% and FLAC by 7%. These cuts will make it even harder for vulnerable local residents to obtain legal advice and ensure their rights and entitlements.
The biggest cut has been reserved for the Law Centre. This could mean an end to vital local legal services the Law Centre has provided for over 27 years including:
· specialist advice on private sector tenants, licensees and leaseholder issues
· emergency specialist legal advice on homelessness, possession, bailiff’s warrants, detention and immigration removals with immediate referral for emergency legal action
· specialist advice and casework in employment, helping people who have been sacked, discriminated against and harassed at work.
· immigration and nationality open-door advice session and telephone advice
· second tier advice to local advice agencies and council housing, social services and benefits officers on behalf of local residents needing statutory services
· legal support for local community organisations aiming to ensure no resident needing vital services remains isolated, and new legal needs are rapidly identified and catered for.
The council has given no reason at all for these cuts which will mean a severe reduction in Law Centre services to local people. The Tories can't justify their proposals so they haven't even tried to - which provides grounds for a legal challenge unless the Tories see reason and the cabinet rejects the proposals.