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Age UK Colchester 'faces axe in council cuts'
A CHARITY offering advice to the elderly could be forced to close in the face of grant cuts by Colchester Council.
Robert Needham, chairman of trustees at Age UK Colchester, told councillors the charity’s closure was inevitable if cash support stopped.
The council is proposing giving the charity £11,083, but stopping an extra payment of £30,000 for its welfare advice service.
Mr Needham told cabinet members half of the charity’s funding came from the national organisation, but it relied on council cash.
He said: “The closure is inevitable.
“Last year the team processed 474 enquiries and helped people receive £1.7million in otherwise unclaimed benefits. This exceeds all performance indicators demanded by the borough and we have had a similar success of the last five years.”
Elizabeth Blundell, a trustee and a borough councillor, said she was disappointed at the proposal.
She said the cost of helping someone was £67 and they received £3,587 in benefits on average.
She said: “This is a fantastic result by the service, which makes a positive contribution for Colchester residents.
“The council has a duty of care to its older residents.”
Tina Bourne, a cabinet member, said the support grant was only meant as a one-off payment four years ago and the charity had been fortunate to continue receiving it.
She said: “We recognise the very good work its does with welfare rights, but I can’t understand why Age UK Colchester feels this was core funding, because it never was. It has done a fantastic job, but it is now time to end that funding.”
The cabinet said other organisations would be able to continue the welfare service and approved the budget proposals.
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