Joe has slammed the SNP Council administration for refusing to answer basic questions over their plans to cut funding to North Ayrshire Women’s Aid.
According to the figures available to Councillor Cullinane the tender would represent a 22% cut on existing North Ayrshire Women’s Aid contracts for refuge, counselling support and outreach services and doesn’t include £134,000 of children’s and addiction services that North Ayrshire Women’s Aid currently provide.
Furthermore, the terms of the tender mean that if North Ayrshire Women’s Aid sought external funding to support their existing work then the Council would reduce their funding by the equivalent amount leaving the organisation unable to plug the financial gap.
Despite asking the portfolio holder twice to confirm this he refused to do so instead favouring personal and political attacks on Councillor Cullinane and the Labour Party.
Speaking after the Council meeting Joe said,
“I think it is appalling that the SNP have refused to answer basic questions on how much they are cutting funding to North Ayrshire Women’s Aid by.”
“North Ayrshire Women’s Aid, in my opinion, deliver one of the best services of it’s like in the country and we should be proud of that rather than using comparative funding figures from other local authority areas to justify cutting their funding.”
“Domestic abuse figures in North Ayrshire are horrendous. Part of that, I believe, is because women who suffer it in North Ayrshire feel able to come forward as they know Women’s Aid will provide them with support. I would much rather see vulnerable women come forward for support rather than stay at risk because they feel they have nowhere to go and that’s why we must try and protect this service.”
“This tender will significantly reduce the service Women’s Aid provide. Their holistic approach through support not just with refuge and housing but with budgeting, benefits, health appointments, support for affected children and many other things is being put at risk.”
“I am confident that the figures I have are correct and the fact the SNP won’t deny nor confirm them speaks volumes. The tender represents huge cuts to their funding and the terms of it prevent them from plugging the gap by sourcing external funding.”
“If North Ayrshire Women’s Aid are unsuccessful in the tendering process then the whole viability of the organisation continuing is at risk. Even if they are successful the cuts will inevitably lead to a restructuring and potentially job losses.”
“Rather than postponing the tendering process for three months maybe the SNP led Council should consider the terms of their contract instead.”
Councillor Cullinane also commented on the potential closure of the Supported Accommodation unit in Helens Terrace, Kilwinning.
The unit is currently used to support up to five young vulnerable women aged 16-25 years old. Quarriers currently run the unit but it hasn't been included in another housing tender for Supported Accommodation. That tender, which has also been postponed for three months, only contains the Quarriers run Hostel in Green Street, Saltcoats.
On this issue Joe said,
“This Supported Accommodation unit supports young women who have a range of problems which may include having been in the care, poor mental health or being the victim of sexual assault. It’s exclusion from the new tender with no details of what alternative support will be provided to this type of young vulnerable women is very concerning. I will be pressing for more details on what the Council intend to do to support these women.”