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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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IWIC loses funding

April 15 2011
Irish organisation latest to suffer the cuts

The Irish Welfare Information Centre (IWIC) has become the latest victim of Birmingham City Council's spending cuts. Its ‘Supporting People Project’ will cease on 31 March 2011; the contract will not be extended. The project lost its funding as a direct result of the coalition government’s Local Government Spending Review, which has seen Birmingham City Council’s Supporting People budget plummet. The project has supported vulnerable older people to live independently within their communities since 2003; it enabled them to maintain their tenancies, live in a safe environment, and access services and benefits they might otherwise have been unaware of. Its seven staff will be made redundant.

The centre operates primary care and substance misuse projects, as well as a popular social inclusion project that offers food, community social events and a drop-in advice surgery for vulnerable citizens over the age of 50. Hugh Tibbits, CEO of IWIC, said: "This is devastating news... Throughout the last seven years, the service has been recognised as excellent by our commissioners, and through no fault of IWIC it will have to come to an end". However, Mr Tibbits reassured those affected by the spending review announcement that IWIC is still capable of providing vital services: "We are only too aware that at a time of austerity, those most in need are at most risk. We are determined to do all we can to adapt to the changing climate and continue to provide accessible, appropriate and quality outcome-driven services".

IWIC will continue to provide important services to the Irish and vulnerable elderly community in Birmingham, though the loss of the Supporting People Project will be a blow to the organisation and its clients. It is a frontline service that provides vital support and advice to people who have few other ways of accessing such services. So, while IWIC’s determination is admirable and encouraging, Birmingham City Council’s withdrawal of funding is a sign that frontline services are, indeed, at risk, and should serve as a warning to other organisations whose futures depend on the Local Government Spending Review.