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St Luke’s and Islington Council in town hall clash over £26k early dementia cut

PUBLISHED: 12:28 16 September 2016 | UPDATED: 12:59 16 September 2016

Early dementia service users Joe Trotter and Margaret Rudge at St Luke's Community Centre. Picture: Polly Hancock

Early dementia service users Joe Trotter and Margaret Rudge at St Luke's Community Centre. Picture: Polly Hancock

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St Luke’s Community Centre hopes the “penny will drop” over council cuts to its early dementia service.

Michael Ryan, chief executive of St Lukes Community Centre. Picture: Polly HancockMichael Ryan, chief executive of St Lukes Community Centre. Picture: Polly Hancock

The centre, in Central Street, Finsbury, runs groups five days a week for 11 recently diagnosed sufferers. It costs £52,000 a year, with £26,000 from Islington Council.

But the authority, suffering from “savage” government cuts, is withdrawing this grant next month – and St Luke’s chief executive Michael Ryan clashed with health leader Cllr Janet Burgess at a town hall meeting last night.

“We can’t understand how cutting £26,000 towards this service is going to save money.

“If that is withdrawn, our service will close. And even if one of the 11 has to go into residential care, it will cost more than £26,000 as a result.”

Islington, for its part, already pays St Luke’s £60,000 a year for other services such as counselling and employment advice. It has also pledged to transport early dementia service users to St Luke’s.

And Cllr Burgess responded: “Our budget had been reduced by 50 per cent since 2010.

“We support people who suffer dementia, support their families and we continue to support service users.

“St Luke’s does have a lot of money – enormous reserves. The council doesn’t. We are struggling for money and we have to spend it where it will have the most impact.”

A petition of over 1,000 signatures against the cuts was handed to the council at last night’s town hall meeting.

And Mr Ryan is still hopeful “the penny will drop”.

He said after the meeting: “I was puzzled when told we had huge reserves. If anyone looks at our balance sheets, they will see we have four-and-a-half months of reserves.

“It was heartening that four councillors came up to me before the meeting saying they were shocked. We have to keep optimistic.”


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