Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Tories cutting law centre's funding....
Hammersmith and Fulham Community Law Centre are facing a massive cut of £160,000 (reduction of more than 60%) as part of an overhaul of the council’s voluntary and community sector grants programme. Obviously many voluntary organisations rely on council grants for its life blood. People in the borough will rely on the support and advice in areas such as housing, employment, immigration and asylum. This will be a massive blow to the services this law centre will be able to provide. Another organisation in the borough that is also facing closure is Horn of Africa community centre.
The law centre also claims that the Tory council are reducing their grant on ideological grounds. According to them a couple of council reps who sit on the management committee have queried why they sue the council when they are being funded by it. If this is the case then it is indeed worrying because it could lead to a dangerous precedent. The idea of constitutional checks and balances seems to have been dumped completely by most establishment thinkers.
The council disagrees instead they claim they would redistribute grants to groups that would help build “safer and healthier communities support the elderly, children and young people”…. “High quality and value for money services” (I suspect they think good advice is too expensive…). The buzz word throughout is “value for money" along with a cut in the council tax. The law centre maintains that they fit the council’s priorities and believe that there is a political agenda at work.
Interesting this has happened since the Tories became the majority on Hammersmith and Fulham council after May 2006 local elections. And here they are merrily chopping away funding for the voluntary sector. Along with New Labour, both are very authoritarian especially towards the powerless in this society. I am sure there is a general dislike of poor people having the audacity and cheek to challenge authority with council cash. And with the cutting to the bone of legal aid many voluntary organisations will be scrabbling around for funding this will inevitably mean the continued shrinking of free legal good advice.
The workers at the law centre have set up a blogsite to fight the proposals and advertise the ongoing protests. Good luck comrades with the fight!