Funding for 3,000 blind people living in Northamptonshire may be withdrawn

A fund that is a lifeline to visually impaired people across Northamptonshire but "small beer" to the county council is under threat.

Sunday, 7th October 2018, 7:00 am
Kay (right) is one of the community support workers funded by Northamptonshire County Council's funding

The £50,000 pays for Northamptonshire Association for the Blind (NAB) community workers to make home visits to adults who either cannot drive or cannot easily use public transport.

It means they can cook safely, get out and about and stay safe in their homes.

But Northamptonshire County Council said its "current poor financial situation" means it might provide the services in a different way or stop them altogether.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The community support workers help keep visually impaired people safe at home

Alex Lohman, the chief executive of Kingsthorpe-based NAB, said: "In cash terms what the council seems to be talking about is ending a contract that costs them £50,000; small beer to a council that spends hundreds of millions a year, but for us it’s a sizeable chunk of the cost of providing our community-based services for visually impaired adults.

"We are working really hard behind the scenes to convince the council that ending this service would be a cut too far.”

If the money is cut it is possible the same home services may be provided by some other body, although it is not clear who would be qualified and experienced enough to do so.

A consultation (which ends at 5pm on Thursday, November 8) has now launched and the charity wants as many people as possible to make their voice heard by clicking here.

Mr Lohman said: "Although NCC are considering ending, or providing another way, the services for visually impaired adults the charity provides on their behalf, this is a consultation and what’s important is that as many people as possible take part and make their views clear."

The county council said it wants to understand how the services are being used, any other support services visually impaired people access, and if the service were to be recommissioned, how could it be improved.

A spokesman said: “The consultation outcomes will help to inform the development of decisions which could result in decommissioning the council funded elements of the services.

“Ending the county council funded contract will not end the totality of funding to these services as both have other funding sources at present.”

Group discussion events lasting about 75 minutes will take place on Wednesday, October 17 at 5.15pm and 6.45pm at the Doddridge Centre in St James. Two further sessions will take place on Thursday, October 25 at 2.15pm and 3.45pm at Kettering Mind in Russell Street, Kettering.

The results of the consultation will be brought back to December cabinet for consideration.