ONCE more we hear that a much-used and much-valued service has been dealt a crushing blow by the withdrawal of a sizeable chunk of its public funding.
This time it is The Age Concern Information and Resource Centre in Havant which over the past 13 or so years has helped thousands of older people with advice and practical assistance on legal, financial and mobility matters.
Like any valued service, it needs money to run.
If that money dries up, then so does the service itself.
So the ending next week of the £92,000-a-year contract with Hampshire County Council is nothing short of a body blow.
Instead Age Concern will be given an annual grant of £25,000 – not much more than a quarter of what has been shown it needs.
That sum of money is clearly not going to be anywhere enough to maintain the standard of service that the organisation has given.
Years of developing expertise in aid and assistance are endangered by one swift strike of the county hall accountant’s pen.
Little wonder that Chris Perry, Age Concern Hampshire’s director, says: ‘We are having difficulty understanding their decision - when so much good work is done and it helps so many people.’
He talks positively of the challenge ahead, saying that cash reserves can probably keep the service going until the end of the year and that everything possible will be done to stay open.
But the withdrawal of much of the county council grant does not augur well for the many people who benefit from the centre’s help and advice.
For them, the future is uncertain, just as it is for the many thousands of people, young and old, who have found that a service that helped them or gave them enjoyment has fallen victim to cuts in public spending.
We don’t just cite Hampshire County Council here – every public authority has made similar cuts.
Those who have until now been aided by Havant’s Age Concern Information and Resource Centre are entitled to join the growing band asking: ‘Where will it all end?’
in Havant enjoyed it comes to facing the