Friday 7 September 2012

Update On Newham Campaign To Save Independent Advice

Back in April I wrote about a campaign set up by local advice agencies who were trying to stop the destruction of independent advice work in the borough and the introduction of a bizarre new system that plans to 'motivate' people not to bother the council with their difficult problems.

As part of that campaign, one Newham resident had brought a judicial review of Newham council's decision on 17th November 2011 to cease funding voluntary sector advice services in the borough and to replace it with an in-house system. On 1st June, this challenge was unsuccessful but Mr Justice Cranston held that it appeared the council had ruled out providing funding to voluntary sector organisations for advice services at the November meeting. As a result of this court case, Newham council has effectively withdrawn its decision and assured the court that it would now consider whether to involve the voluntary sector. The judge made it clear that before the council makes a final decision, it must consult properly.

The consultation was launched on 2nd August, will run until the 25th October 2012 and residents affected by the changes are encouraged to take part. The council's questionnaire is available online at

A paper version of the questionnaire is supposedly available at any local service centre or library. However, campaigners who recently attempted to collect copies from two local libraries discovered that they are not readily available to the public. One of the key arguments of the Save Independent Advice in Newham campaign is that a significant number of Newham residents do not have access to the internet or have the ability to easily navigate online council services. They are therefore urging local people to make a point of going into their local libraries or service centres and asking for paper copies of the consultation questionnaire. If you find there are problems providing one, let the campaign know by e-mailing:

A list of libraries is available here and the few remaining service centres here. Drop in and ask for a questionnaire!

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