Portsmouth counselling service is under threat from cuts

IN DEMAND Relate Portsmouth centre manager Rachel Aslet-Clark
IN DEMAND Relate Portsmouth centre manager Rachel Aslet-Clark

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THE manager of a Portsmouth counselling service has expressed fears that the city council’s decision to cut its funding could force it to close.

The local authority has provided £44,000 every year for the last five years to Relate Portsmouth, which supports struggling families in the city.

The money means clients can get a 25 per cent discount when paying for advice and attending workshops at its base in Isambard Brunel Road, Portsmouth

But now, as part of the council’s decision to save £10m next year, it wants to cut back its contribution to £24,000 in the next financial year and withdraw it completely the following year.

Rachel Aslet-Clark, centre manager for Relate Portsmouth, said: ‘In an increasingly challenging financial environment, where relationships and families are under increasing pressure, our services have never been in greater demand.

‘That’s why we find the funding plans deeply disturbing and are calling for the council to reconsider.

‘We will continue to review our infrastructure to ensure that we have capacity to deliver our crucial front-line services.

‘However, we are concerned that this funding reduction will mean we can no longer offer services universally and may need to turn away those who cannot afford to pay the full cost of delivery.

‘We are also concerned that this loss of income could in the medium term lead to Relate’s services being withdrawn from the city.

‘We believe this decision to be short-sighted and think that it could ultimately cost the council more money.’

A recent survey of users showed 76 per cent said the service had helped save their marriage.

Mrs Aslet-Clark added: ‘Investment in Relate is considerably cheaper for the local authority than, for example, rehousing a broken family.’

The decision comes as the future of another city counselling service, Off The Record, remains in doubt, despite receiving a £7,000 cash boost from the council.

As reported, the council withdrew funding last year and warned the peppercorn rent it charged on its Fratton Road office was to increase to a market rate.