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Shropshire's Age concern in funding axe job cuts

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SHROPSHIRE'S AGE Concern is to cut jobs and services after its council grant was slashed by 20 per cent. SHROPSHIRE'S AGE Concern is to cut jobs and services after its council grant was slashed by 20 per cent. The charity's north and south Shropshire offices will close in April and its Help at Home scheme will be reduced by 10 per cent. The pub, club and parish links co-ordinator post will be lost and there will also be cuts in the day centre budget. Chief executive Heather Osborne said the cuts were extremely worrying and she said she feared that older people would see vital services eroded.

SHROPSHIRE'S AGE Concern is to cut jobs and services after its council grant was slashed by 20 per cent.

The charity's north and south Shropshire offices will close in April and its Help at Home scheme will be reduced by 10 per cent. The pub, club and parish links co-ordinator post will be lost and there will also be cuts in the day centre budget.

Chief executive Heather Osborne said the cuts were extremely worrying and she said she feared that older people would see vital services eroded.

"As part of its overall budget savings Shropshire Council is reducing the Age Concern grant by 20 per cent over the next three years," she said.

Decisions on which services will be cut had been made after talks with the council over priorities.

Miss Osborne said Age Concern employed 160 people, 130 of them in the paid-for section of the Help at Home scheme, which gives practical help to older people to help them remain living at home.

"There will be redundancies and there will be reductions in hours for our management team but we can not yet say how many workers will be affected," she said. "We already have a waiting list of 200 people for Help at Home and this will grow if we find we can not help as many people.

"The pub, club and parish links co-ordinator post will end in April 2011, although we anticipate existing pub, club and parish links will continue to operate. However, we are worried that some clubs could close if there is no co-ordinator."

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Miss Osborne said the charity appreciated Shropshire Council had to make cuts but was concerned the grant reduction could have a huge knock-on effect for older people in the county.

She said: "I am extremely concerned that services will be eroded, at a time when there are more older people than ever living in Shropshire."

Council leader Keith Barrow said: "The results of the Government's recent Comprehensive Spending Review have meant that all councils have difficult decisions to make over their spending priorities for the coming years."

He said the decisions were not "being taken lightly" and sought to reassure residents their views were being heard.

By Sue Austin

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