Opposition mounts over Tower Hamlets council’s planned welfare advice cuts

Planned cuts to welfare advice centres in Tower Hamlets are attracting opposition, with more than 1,000 people signing petitions calling for the council to reconsider its plans.

Many organisations providing advice and community services in the borough are facing cuts of as much as 70 per cent under proposals unveiled at a meeting of Tower Hamlets council’s cabinet last month.

Several organisations have said they may be forced to close or drastically reduce the services they provide if the cuts are implemented.

Tower Hamlets Law Centre’s manager Sue Brown has now submitted an open letter to the borough’s Mayor, Lutfur Rahman.

“We hope that as Mayor of Tower Hamlets – a highly impoverished borough – you will agree that any reductions in funding for advice provision are short sighted and will lead to long-term and irrevocable issues of extreme poverty, isolation, and disaffection”, she wrote.

“It was pleasing to hear at our meeting that our work is valued and that you support the continuation of our crucial and much-needed advice services.

“We sincerely hope and trust that this will be taken into consideration during the current review process and, consequently, funding reinstated to the current level”, she added.

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The letter comes after more than 1,000 people signed petitions distributed to organisations affected by Labour councillors.

Labour group leader cllr Joshua Peck said: “All across Tower Hamlets people are signing our petition and expressing their outrage at the Mayor’s unfair and counter-productive cuts to advice centres.

“To cut these vital advice centres at the same time as residents are struggling with the impact of government changes to welfare and housing is irresponsible and plainly wrong.”

However, cllr Alibor Choudhury said the proposals have not been finalised and accused cllr Peck of “scaremongering”.

He said: “There have not been any decisions taken about the final allocation of grants – this process is currently on-going.

“Cllr Peck is simply scaremongering to suggest otherwise.”

A final decision on where grants are to be allocated is expected at next week’s council cabinet meeting.