Cash for needy is going to addicts

MONEY meant for vulnerable people in Weston is being spent on drug addicts from outside North Somerset, according to the town's MPaddicts, onl

MONEY meant for vulnerable people in Weston is being spent on drug addicts from outside North Somerset, according to the town's MP.John Penrose claims the North Somerset Council is using its Supporting People Grant (SPG) to house and support addicts, only seven per cent of whom are from the district.He says the money is being used to help people in a number of residential and supported hostels which cater for drug and alcohol dependence.Mr Penrose said: "Local people are losing out. The SPG money should go to support local people in the most desperate need, instead of supporting addicts from other areas."It seems every other local authority is sending their addicts here and using our SPG money to fund their housing needs."Because there are no cross authority funding arrangements in place, they can keep their own SPG money, and North Somerset is left to pick up the tab with costs and increased crime."Far too much of our local allocation is being used to prop up addiction and treatment referrals from outside the area. This is pushing up crime and dragging Weston down. This grant should be used to support a range of services for our own residents." The RAG report, a Re-evaluation of the Effects of Local Drug Rehabilitation services Upon Weston, published in November last year, states there are 12 unregistered facilities with 81 beds funded as supported housing under the SPG regime. There were 68 people known to be living in the properties, 80 per cent of whom came from outside North Somerset and who had a history of offending in their home towns.Mr Penrose received confirmation from Government ministers that SPGs are intended to help local people and has written to North Somerset Council to urge it to look at how the money is spent.But the council denies the money is being spent on drug treatment. A spokesman said: "SPG is Government funding for housing related support for vulnerable people and cannot pay for drug treatment. "In North Somerset, SPG funding is enabling over 2,000 people to remain independent. It covers a range of specific support needs, including people with learning disabilities and older people, and is a way of helping people to gain life skills and become positive contributors to society.

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