Croydon Council closes groups which helped disabled people find work
EMPLOYMENT prospects for hundreds of disabled and jobless people have been "ruined" following Croydon Council's decision to scrap two voluntary projects.
The Community Business and Work scheme (CBW) and the Community Enterprise Support Service (CESS) both tried to find jobs for people with disabilities and the unemployed.
But they are being axed as part of the multi-million pound council cuts being made. It means 11 staff members from both groups will be made redundant.
Paul Venn, 55, one of those losing his job, said: "I am dumbfounded at the council's decision to stop funding us, as we were expecting to go on until at least March 2011.
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"This cut will hit hundreds of unemployed and excluded members of our society."
Both groups were based in London Road, West Croydon.
Mr Venn, a part-time adviser for CBW, says his scheme alone supported more than 400 people and had helped 100 residents find employment since its launch in September 2009.
He added: "No one else in Croydon is doing what we are, and the council can't do our work themselves.
"We are helping reduce unemployment, we are helping entrepreneurs start up businesses and we help take people off benefits and make them positive contributors to society.
"The council is hitting frontline services like ours which is very worrying when you consider all the public sector cuts and the increasing reliance on the voluntary sector."
Mr Venn's team deals specifically with individuals, whereas the CESS, which has been running since March 2007, helps groups.
In the 2009/10 financial year umbrella group Croydon Voluntary Action was allocated £200,000 for each of these projects.
Funding for 2010/11 has been reduced to £100,000 each to enable the closure of the projects by the end of September.
A council spokesman said: "These groups are amongst a number of services that were commissioned through the Local Enterprise Growth Initiative (LEGI) fund.
"The significant reduction of the LEGI grant, which is part of the coalition government's difficult task of reducing public sector spending, has unfortunately meant that these services can no longer be funded."