Hope for Northamptonshire day centres as crunch meeting held tonight

The Autumn Centre in Corby is losing a contract worth 57,000.
The Autumn Centre in Corby is losing a contract worth 57,000.

There could be some financial hope on the horizon for the county’s day care centres as they are holding talks with Northamptonshire’s Director of Public Health tonight (Oct 31).

Twelve organisations that help the elderly and rough sleepers will have the funding provided under the £1.6m annual social well-being contract removed with effect from next March.

Many affected, such as Age UK, have said the lost income could force them to reduce services or even close the doors of some centres altogether.

But it now appears there could be some new interim funding coming forward.

In a letter sent to providers seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, director of public health Lucy Wightman has written: “My officers are currently seeking cabinet approval to make use of a one-year contract extension clause that could be evoked with variation to provide some interim support until March 2021.

“Our intention is to commission a new service for vulnerable residents with a clear public outcome focus from April 2021 and we will continue to work with voluntary, community and social enterprise partners to ensure that local organisations are involved in developing the service model.

“I hope this information provides some reassurance to you and your colleages that in the short term there will be transition funding while we confirm future arrangements.”

It is understood the funding level could be less than the organisations are currently receiving.

Altogether the 12 organisations help more than 3,500 people. Many have said that by cutting the funding to day centres could have an impact further down the line with the county council ultimately having to spend more on individual social care. The cuts follow a series of funding reductions over the years. Now the Autumn Centre in Corby has to fundraise half of its revenue each year itself.

The social wellbeing contract used to be funded out of the council’s annual £240m adult social care budget but at some point during the concil’s troubled financial times, was moved and instead came from the £37m public health pot.

Public Health England said in March last year that the funding was not compliant and ordered that the money is repaid and re-spent over the next few years.

Last year the contract was cut from £2.4m to £1.6m a year, with organisations such as Community Law losing funds, and at yesterday’s Northamptonshire County Council scrutiny meeting Lucy Wightman said that some of the funding was still not compliant.

She said hopefully the way forward will be clearer after tonight’s meeting.