Changes force respite group to close down

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A CHARITY which offers respite to carers is to fold after being told to change and extend its services without an increase in funding.

Bosses at Suffolk Respite say they would have been unable to afford the new service model laid down by Suffolk County Council.

The Ipswich-based organisation, which will close at the end of this month, supports those with enduring and severe mental health issues two or three hours a week to give their full-time carer a break.

It covers the Waveney area, Southern and Central Suffolk including Stowmarket and Needham Market – serving nearly 80 families this financial year.

However, Suffolk County Council proposed the charity’s workers focus on the carer instead of the cared for person and extend its geographical scope to cover the Western region to support 160 to 170 carers a year.

Their funding from the authority would remain at its current level of £168,000. Ken Dunnett, chairman of Suffolk Respite, said: “It’s simply not a viable proposition. We would have to do 30 per cent more work for the same amount of money. It reduces our hourly operating rate to a figure that’s so low that it’s unsustainable.

“We think it’s a vital service and the people receiving it also think so.”

Cllr Colin Noble, portfolio holder for adult and community services for the council, explained that people were being given more choice over which services they used through personalised budgets and carers could receive support from the charity Suffolk Family Carers.

He said: “We’re putting people at the heart of what we do. We’re still providing the services and still supporting the carers. This is about an organisation that has looked at the changes that are coming in and that’s their decision to take. They’re a great organisation but as we up the choice and control people have, it isn’t for every organisation and we recognise that. Every one of their clients has been written to. They’re aware of the changes and services that can be provided. They have an option to go to Suffolk Family Carers if they wish.”