Charity wants contract talks with council

A Morpeth-based charity that supports young people is seeking urgent talks with officers at County Hall as changes to funding arrangements continue to bite.

Concerns have also been raised by Morpeth Town Council about the impact of Northumberland County Council’s contracts with youth organisations for supported housing prevision.

Previously, Barnabas Safe and Sound would receive a set annual sum, but now funding is only allocated as and when its accommodation is used.

The referral system has also changed so that the charity can not accept tenants without going through the county authority. This has resulted in a reduction in income.

Chief executive Chris Menzies said: “We’re hoping to have discussions with senior county council officers as soon as possible and we will be looking to maintain our good relationship with them.

“The charity relies on the supported housing contract with the authority and that’s our main concern at the moment.

“However, I have also discussed our youth work provision with the trustees and a strategy will be drawn up in the coming months. This will focus on the activities at our centre in Stobhill.”

At a meeting of the town council’s finance and general purposes committee, members said that other organisations are also struggling as a result of these arrangements.

Coun Andrew Tebbutt said: “There is a lack of recognition at the county council that key services for our most vulnerable people are totally dependent on volunteer organisations, which require appropriate levels of funding.

“I believe the situation is serious enough for an extraordinary full council meeting to be called, so we can discuss the situation with the relevant officers.”

Coun Nic Best suggested that informal talks should take place with the county authority and organisations like Barnabas to find out the current position, and a decision would then be taken on whether or not to call an extraordinary full council meeting.

Members approved this recommendation.