THIRTEEN of Tamworth's most vulnerable people are being kicked out of their homes. Residents with mental health issues living in supported housing in Bolehall have been told they have less than 10 weeks to find somewhere else to live.
The shock announcement follows Staffordshire County Council cutting its funding to the Metropolitan Support Trust.
The move has been slammed as "appalling" by Tamworth Borough Council Leader, Cllr Danny Cook.
"To have this funding just ripped away is pretty shocking. These are probably the most mentally-challenged people in Tamworth with serious issues and they really need to be protected by society and helped through this," he said.
"Just to be told that they have nowhere to live in a matter of weeks – I just cannot believe that can happen in the 21st century.
"Tamworth Borough Council, under my leadership, is looking in to how we can stop these people falling through the cracks. We will do what we can to help them. We will seek out other funding where we can to support them."
For Leo Thomas, who has lived at the facility for nearly two years, the news is "so disappointing".
"We will be made homeless on September 30. We are all people with mental health problems and this scheme has helped us to get back on the right track, to get on with our everyday lives and we are so sad to see it go," said Leo (24).
"Without this scheme I would be struggling to cope," added Leo, who suffers from mild depression, anxiety and Asperger's Syndrome.
A spokesperson for care and support provider, Metropolitan, described the news as "extremely disappointing" as, without the funding the facility on Summerfield Close will be forced to close.
"Our priority now is to help our customers in finding alternative accommodation with the right level of support to meet their needs," said the spokesperson, who added that the notices of possession will ensure residents are treated as a priority for re-housing with Tamworth Borough Council.
The cut comes as part of a review into 200 schemes in the national Supporting People programme.
While a spokesperson for the county council wouldn't comment on the impact of funding cuts for Metropolitan residents, they said the needs of "vulnerable residents" must be at the heart of their new approach to support.
Alan White, Staffordshire County Council's Cabinet member for care, said this means fostering greater independence and less dependence for as many people as possible. However, he denied the cuts mean the council is "pulling out of supporting residents".
He said: "This review doesn't mean we are pulling out of supporting residents, far from it. Together with partners we will still be spending this year more than £100 million to help people with mental health issues, £100 million to support older people and £82 million to help residents with disabilities.
"However, instead of looking at areas such as mental health, homelessness, addiction or repeat offending in isolation, we want to offer a joined-up, county-wide approach which focuses more on preventing people falling into crisis and less on long term dependence on services."
A report on the cuts is being presented to Tamworth Borough Council's Cabinet on July 31. Ahead of the meeting, Cllr Cook said while he is "supportive of better targeting of resources", he fears the cuts will lead to greater costs for the county in the long-run.
"At the minute I am terrified for some very vulnerable people who will be let down badly because the money stops before we can plan for 'what next'? It's appalling," he said.